Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

I chose this topic as my introductory article due to its time-sensitive nature. Although it is not officially winter yet, the cold weather has made its appearance, the long wintery nights are here, and the sun sets early at four in the afternoon. While the seasons each consist of three months, the wintery season definitely seems to last the longest and go on forever. While according to the calendar winter starts on December 21, per my calculations it is already here, making it the perfect time to winterize your home.

While the following to-do list can help you check off what has to be done in preparation for winter, keep in mind that your house may have other concerns that need to be addressed.


Drain stagnating water from pipes and gutters.

Remember your high school science experiments that showed what happens to water in its frozen state? Exactly the same thing can happen in your home; water left inside pipes can freeze, causing pipes to expand and burst. Water left in gutters will likewise freeze and prevent the rainwater as well as melted snow from draining properly. It is therefore important to rid gutters as well as pipes and outdoor hoses from stagnating water. While pipes can be drained at the end of the summer season, it’s best to wait to clean the gutters until all leaves in your home’s vicinity have fallen down, so that the leaves and debris can be cleared as well. It is also helpful to have a gutter guard installed that can prevent leaves and other substances from ending up in your gutters and make cleanup a lot easier. It is imperative to use caution when cleaning your gutters yourself, and given the dangers associated with heights, it is recommended to call a professional to do the job for you.


Close cracks and openings to avoid air drafts.

Cold air can come in through small cracks and openings and substantially lower the temperature in your home. Since these cracks are usually found around window frames and doors, it is best to place your hand around their perimeters and feel for drafts. Gaps can easily be sealed with applying weather strips or by caulking the area. While I do not recommend tackling gutters, YouTube videos offer helpful tutorials, making this a more user-friendly DIY project. In addition, air conditioners may need to be removed so windows can be properly shut, which will help keep the cold air out. If removing the units at the end of the summer is too cumbersome, you can insulate the window and cover the air conditioner. Installing heavy curtains can also keep the cold air out while doubling as a decorative addition to the room. By tackling window and door gaps now you will keep the hot and humid air from seeping into the house during the summer as well, and will result in lowering your utility bills in the winter as well as during the summer season.


Have your boiler or furnace serviced.

Placing a service call to maintain the boiler or furnace is definitely an important aspect of winterizing your home. Taking care of the furnace now will prevent breakdowns in the middle of the winter and ensure that your boiler performs at optimum efficiency during the cold wintery months. This will keep you warm throughout the season while keeping your utility bills down. Homeowners who rely on oil to heat their homes should make sure that the tank does not run out of supply. It is therefore best to set up automatic delivery, which would ensure continuous warmth throughout the chilling winter season. While the boiler room may be a great storage area, it is important to take safety precautions by removing everything from its perimeter before the winter use. Utility companies offer informative advice as well as energy-saving tips on their website.


Clean your chimney

While chimneys are usually associated with venting fireplace fumes, it may also serve as escape routes for your primary heating. It is therefore important that the chimney be cleaned before the winter season in order to facilitate fumes to exit efficiently. The Chimney Safety Institute of America website offers helpful information about chimney maintenance and how to find a certified chimney sweeper. In addition, it is important to take the necessary safety precautions to make sure your fireplace is out of reach of your small children and fitted with an appropriate safety guard. While our familiarity with chimney sweepers may be limited to what we remember from Mary Poppins, rest assured that they do exist in real life and are available to service your chimney.


Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

While you must check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the year, is important to make sure they are in working order with charged batteries and they should be tested regularly. With Chanukah approaching, it is of utmost importance to make sure your smoke detectors are working properly and your menorahs are lit away from flammables. It is particularly hazardous to light the candles near curtains or leave the Chanukah candles burning unattended. Chanukah candles can also be enticing for children and need to be placed out of their reach. It is therefore best to remain in the vicinity of your candles and douse the flames before leaving the house. If you are attending a Chanukah event, lighting your candles at your host’s home may be a better option. As always, check with your rabbi for clarification on this matter

In order to have adequate time to do the proper research for my newspaper articles, they will appear on a bi-monthly schedule. Feel free to email me your comments and topics of interest, which I would be happy to include in future articles.

Stay warm and have an enjoyable winter season.


Rita Tepfer is a licensed real estate agent with Olam Realty Group. She can be reached at 917-405-9160 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.