What you’ll need to be ready for winter, from 5 experts


It’s the season for family gatherings, getting cozy in front of fires and baking cookies. Hygge only happens, though, when a home is prepared for the cold, ice and snow and the havoc they can wreak. “One of the most important things to think about when you’re winterizing your home is water and any place that it could freeze,” says Tamara Day of Kansas City, Mo., host of HGTV’s “Bargain Mansions.” Check your pipes, she advises, and make sure exterior garden spigots are disconnected from hoses and are topped with winterizing caps. Keep a shovel ready, as well as salt — making sure it’s the kind that won’t damage your driveway. We asked Day and four other winter experts what else they would keep on hand for winter hibernation.

When it snows, Day says, try this trick: Use multiple doormats. With four kids, Day says, “on snow days, my kitchen can become a muddy mess real quick.” She keeps a stiff bristle doormat outside to dislodge the big chunks of snow, plus a mat to absorb water. Inside the house, she has a softer mat to catch the last of the watery mess. Tough coir is great for that first scraping; try the Natural Coir House Doormat ($24, shop.growingdays.com).

Allie Mann, designer and senior interiors specialist at Case Design/Remodeling in Washington, remembers when her house lost power for two days. “We survived with our generator,” she says, recommending Honda’s 2,200-watt Super Quiet Gasoline Powered Portable Inverter Generator ($1,049, homedepot.com). Getting an electrician to install a transfer switch next to your house’s electrical panel eliminates the need for extension cords when using it, she says.

Marnie Oursler, president of Marnie Custom Homes in Delaware and host of DIY Network’s “Big Beach Builds,” has a system at the door for keeping messy winter snow and mud outside. First is a boot scraper; second is a boot tray “to help organize the mountain of shoes that tends to pile up on snow days.” The Embossed Metal Boot Tray with Sunflowers is two inches deep, to keep water from ruining your floors ($54.94, walmart.com).

Three of our experts pointed to the Nest programmable thermostat ($249, store.google.com) for saving money and keeping homes comfortable during the winter, including Jim Hunter, chief executive of House Doctors in Cincinnati. You can control the Nest by phone when you are away, too, if you forgot to turn the heat down. Plus, it can connect to a larger smart-home system, including a doorbell, lock, carbon monoxide alarm and more.

When preparing your house for cold snaps, look up at your roof and gutters. Are there de-icers on them? If not, and you live in an area that gets a lot of ice, you could be seeing a handyman for damage caused by ice damming. Chris Slippy, owner and operator of the Idaho Handyman in Post Falls, Idaho, fixed a lot of siding in 2018 damaged by ice getting under siding. A quick de-icing kit should do the preventive trick, such as the EasyHeat Roof & Gutter De-icing Kit ($79.15, walmart.com).