This February has brought with it record-high snow falls and nearly record low temperatures for much of the Midwest and beyond. The Polar Vortex takes a toll on your home, and even your wellness.

In speaking with our area HVAC installers, they report that the recent frigid temperatures and piles of snow have put an enormous amount of strain on heating and ventilation equipment.

“As a result of furnaces working double time – literally, doubling the amount of heating hours this winter compared to average – we’ve received an unprecedented number of service calls relating to frozen pipes and furnaces not working,” said Scott Sherk, Co-Owner of Neighborhood Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electrical based in St. Cloud, Minn.

To get through the next month(s) of winter, consider a few of these high- and low-tech tips for improving your home’s comfort, and your own well-being.

Check your equipment

    1. Change your furnace filter. Experts recommend we should be changing these at least once a month during these high-demand times.
    2. Schedule a furnace tune up. Sherk will be proactively reaching out to its customers for discounted furnace tune-up to ensure the furnace can meet the demand next fall/winter (i.e., ignitors and flame sensors working properly).
    3. Check the Humidification levels. Cold air has less moisture in it than warm air, which is why our skin tends to be drier and itchier in the colder months. When your HVAC contractor is tuning up your furnace, ask them to check the humidification systems as well. This will help ensure your home is comfortable and will prevent wood floors from drying and cracking, and will prevent general discomfort from the dry air.
    4. Keep care of the roof. A winter roof can tell a lot about a home’s ventilation. To avoid ice dams and water damage when the snow melts, rake it off, if possible. Speak with your contractor or HVAC installer to determine if you have proper amounts of ventilation and installation for your home.

Stock up on Smart Home Solutions

    1. Add smart lighting to your home. Caseta by Lutron or Phillips Hue offer light that can be customized based on the time of day. It’s recommended that exposure to bright light in the morning can help keep your circadian rhythms in check and it also helps address seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
    2. Winter is a season for safety. States like Minnesota see an increase in carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in Dec-Feb. To ensure peace of mind, ensure your home has several CO detectors placed throughout your home – or better yet, consider combination smoke/CO detectors.
    3. Get Smart about your comfort. Smart thermostats have increased in popularity since they provide energy savings when homeowners are away, and comfort when they are home. Our latest smart thermostat delivers the right temperature to the right room at the right time.

Fuel the Body

  1. Ride on. I’m a big fan of using my Peloton bike – especially during the winter! I can even use the new T10 PRO Smart Thermostat to deliver ideal temperature to my home ‘gym’ when I start my ride, and ensures that room doesn’t get overly humid.
  2. When the weather gives us a break, walk outside. Studies suggest spending time in nature to clear your mind and soak in some Vitamin D from sunlight can improve mood. Fresh air is also important to improve your overall mental and physical health.
  3. Ensure your home is getting enough light. Open the blinds or even remove your screens to allow more sunlight into your home. Here in Minnesota we (actually) get a lot of sunlight along with all the snow!