Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Winter Maintenance For Your Home

Weather the Winter Season

Following a Schedule
The comforts of a cozy, warm home in winter can help you forget about the short days and the multiple layers of clothing. Following a maintenance schedule throughout the year will certainly benefit you in the winter, but be aware of the hazards the cold conditions can bring to your home. These guidelines can help you weather the winter season with a well-maintained home.

Be Energy Efficient
Since your heating system will be running constantly throughout the winter, remember to change out your HVAC filters every month. Inspect the insulation in your attic and crawlspace. Warm air rises and leaves the house through the roof, so you should focus on insulation in your ceilings. Seal areas around recessed lights, the attic hatch, and plumbing vents that may be allowing warm air from the living space below to enter the attic. Proper attic ventilation, adequate attic insulation, and a tight air barrier between the attic and the interior of the house will work together to prevent ice dams.

If you don’t have double-paned windows, remove the screens and install storm windows to ensure that the heat stays in and the cold stays out. If you’re on a tight budget, pick up an inexpensive plastic-film sheet kit from your local hardware store. These will only last one season, but they do help with energy efficiency and are able to halt the cold flow of winter drafts. If you have a fireplace, burning firewood is another way to save energy costs. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly – about an inch – and close doors leading into the room. That will prevent the fire from drawing warm air out of the rest of the house and replacing it with cold air.

And remember to store your firewood in a dry place at least 30 feet from your home to avoid a fire hazard.

Protect Your Pipes
Pipes located in attics, crawl spaces, basements, and near outer walls can be susceptible to freezing in extreme temperatures. When the forecast calls for unusually cold temperatures, let water drip from hot and cold faucets overnight. Also try keeping cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate in places like below sinks. If you open the cabinet doors, be sure to remove anything inside the cabinets that may pose a safety to hazard to children, such as household cleaners. For exposed pipes in your attic, basement, or crawlspaces, add extra insulation around them. View the tips to avoid frozen pipes for more information.

Be Ready For An Emergency
Blackouts and snow-ins can occur during winter months, so take a moment to prepare yourself and your family for such emergencies. Having the following items ready will help you make it through safely.
  • Flashlights
  • Bottled water
  • Nonperishable food items
  • Blankets
  • Phone numbers for your utility companies
  • Battery backup to protect your computer and other important electronic equipment
  • First-aid kit
If you have an emergency generator, make sure you have gasoline stored and available to fuel it.

Holiday Decorations
’Tis the season to be festive, but remember to stay safe with your holiday decorations. Inspect the wires of your light display before switching them on: They may be frayed and present an electrical fire hazard. Same goes for the Christmas tree inside; always check the light strands for any sign of wear-and-tear from being in storage. If you have a real Christmas tree, keep it watered, since dry trees catch fire easier. Check with your local municipality for instructions on how to dispose of the tree once the new year arrives.

Winter Yard Care
Even with the cold weather conditions, your yard still needs to be maintained. Make sure tree and shrub branches are well away from the house and windows. Icy conditions can cause branches to break and damage your home. Walk around your home and survey the roof to see if any ice dams have formed; call a contractor if you suspect this is the case. As you walk around your house, check the foundation for small cracks or openings where mice or other pests can tunnel in. Winter is when they seek the warmth of your house, so seal up any possible entrances. While you’re outside, clear snow off gas meters and away from basement windows and your dryer exhaust vent.

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Written By Staff writer State Farm™ Employee

Faces at TRIP: Elizabeth Anderson

Elizabeth Anderson is a volunteer intern at TRIP this fall.  She is working on TRIP’s sustainability and neighborhood stabilization initiatives.  Elizabeth has also done some design work for TRIP, such as updating some of TRIP’s materials.
Elizabeth is a coterminal student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute working on her bachelors in Sustainability Studies and masters in Ecological Economics, Values, and Policy.  Her interests are sustainability, policy, social justice, and urban planning.  After she graduates, Elizabeth hopes to work on improving sustainability and people’s lives in either the government or non-profit sector.
At RPI, Elizabeth is the chair of the Student Sustainability Task Force and Associate News Editor of The Polytechnic. She also plays on the RPI Ultimate Frisbee club team.

We are very happy to have Elizabeth at TRIP this semester! 

Public Participation in Planning Needed – Again and Again!

As the City of Troy prepares its Five Year (2015-2019) Consolidated Plan to HUD, Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia claims “Public participation is a critical aspect of formulating our next five-year plan and we encourage our residents to attend one of the upcoming meetings.”

Four public focus group meetings have been scheduled at which residents, businesses, neighborhood groups, and others are given an opportunity to hear from the City about the ConPlan and its proposed activities.  Attendees can also comment on the targeting of the City’s federal entitlement funds which includes Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership (HOME), and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds. These funds are generally designated for community development, homelessness and housing needs.   The schedule of meetings is: 
  • October 22:  6:30 – 8 PM, T.A.U.M., 392 2nd Street
  • October 29:  6:30 – 8 PM, Fallon Rainbow Center, 847 River St.
  • November 19:  6:30 - 8 PM, Troy City Hall, 433 River St. 5th fl

The City is also in process of developing its first comprehensive plan in 50 years.  Realize Troy:  A Comprehensive Plan which will be finalized by the end of 2015, will create a “roadmap” for Troy’s future based on public participation leading to a community based vision. This vision will include such areas as land use, development, zoning, demographics, population, housing needs, resources, infrastructure and more.  A public kickoff meeting and stakeholder interviews were held in September with other opportunities in the coming months.  Meetings are scheduled for November 20th from 6:30 - 9pm, locations to be announced.  For more information about Realize Troy, go to http://www.realizetroy.com

TNAC Meeting

Thursday, October 30 | 6:30 - 8pm | Hill Street Inn | 222 4th St. Troy

Don’t miss the semi-annual TNAC (Troy Neighborhoods Action Council) meeting on Thursday, October 30th from 6:30 - 8 PM at the Hill Street Inn at 222 4th Street in Troy

Come learn about Troy’s new Land Bank and its plans as well as the plans of the Troy Police Department. Hear what other neighborhoods are up to! For more info or to RSVP, contact hilary [at] triponline.org