Tune in to any weather report during the fall or winter and you’re likely hearing something about wind chill. If you live in a part of the country famous for having icy conditions, you’re probably very familiar with that term already.
Knowing about the wind chill temperature before heading out is important if you want to be reasonably comfortable. But what about the different parts of your home? Could they suffer from the ill effects of wind chill too?
Wind chill does not affect living things and inanimate objects in the same way. When it comes to inanimate objects such as water pipes, wind chill can only help cool them down faster. Once the object in question is at the same temperature level as the air, it will not cool down further.
Developing a better understanding of wind chill will help you prepare better for the day. It will also help you better evaluate the current condition of your home. Let’s dive more into the topic of wind chill in this article.
Table of Contents
- What Is Wind Chill?
- How Does Wind Chill Affect the Body?
- Can Wind Chill Affect How Comfortable You Are at Home?
- Could Wind Chill Have an Adverse Effect on a Home’s Plumbing System?
- Your Water Pipes Spring Leaks or Burst
- Your Water Pipes Become More Susceptible to Damage
- You May Struggle to Get Hot Water
- Related Questions
- Does the Wind Chill Have Any Impact on Plants?
- How Do You Calculate Wind Chill Temperatures?
- How Can You Protect Your Body against Wind Chill?
What Is Wind Chill?
To get things started, let’s first define what wind chill really is. According to the National Weather Service, the wind chill temperature is how cold your body feels whenever you head outdoors.
The wind chill is not a strict definition of the temperature outside per se. You can think of it more as how your body perceives the temperature outdoors after accounting for certain factors.
When it comes to wind chill, the factors that matter most are the actual air temperature and the wind speed. The harder the wind is blowing, the cooler the wind chill factor becomes. Going out in the middle of a snowstorm is never a good idea and wind chill plays a role in that.
How Does Wind Chill Affect the Body?
We’ve already established that air temperature and wind speed are the factors that matter when determining wind chill. But how does that combination result in you feeling colder than what the temperature indicates? It has a lot to do with heat loss.
The wind outside is constantly going to draw heat away from any exposed part of your body. As that continues, you’ll continue to lose more of your body heat through your exposed skin. Cool air moving at high speeds will cause you to lose body heat faster.
Continue to keep your skin exposed while you’re outside amidst the howling winds and it may soon freeze over. This also explains why you may feel more comfortable on some days even if the temperature indicates you shouldn’t be. You stand a chance of enduring the cold temperatures better as long as the wind doesn’t pick up.
Can Wind Chill Affect How Comfortable You Are at Home?
The condition of your home will help determine how affected you are by wind chill. If you have small holes along your walls and windows, you’re likely going to have a hard time staying comfortable. The cold air can simply blow through those openings and lower your home temperature.
Even if you have a furnace blowing hot air into your living room, it may struggle against the cold winds. You may also find that a warm room cools down faster if there are holes that have not been patched up.
In order to maintain comfortable temperatures inside your home in the middle of winter, you’ll need to make repairs. Fill in any cracks or holes that have formed and prevent them from serving as entryways for the cold air. Closing any other openings the air can get through would also be wise during the winter season.
Could Wind Chill Have an Adverse Effect on a Home’s Plumbing System?
Since wind chill is usually associated with freezing temperatures, it’s only natural to wonder if it can damage a home. More specifically, you might be wondering if the low wind chill temperature could affect your plumbing system.
Given that water is prone to freezing, could it also be vulnerable to the freezing air temperatures? It’s possible that your water pipes could end up damaged, but it will have nothing to do with the wind chill.
Wind chill’s effect on inanimate objects is limited. If the air temperature is at 15 degrees Fahrenheit, your water pipes are not going to be any cooler than that.
The wind chill will only lower the temperature of the pipes to the same temperature as the air. It can also lower the temperature at a faster rate. With no heat to siphon away, the wind chill will not cause the temperature of the pipes to dip further.
Still, the cold air can continue to have an impact on your plumbing. Mentioned below are the possible ways in which you and your home may be affected by the cold air.
Your Water Pipes Spring Leaks or Burst
Knowing that the wind chill cannot lower the temperature of inanimate objects beyond the actual air temperature may seem reassuring. However, that does not guarantee that your pipes will remain intact.
The water freezing inside the pipes is still possible if the air is cold enough. As soon as the ice forms and expands, it could end up damaging the inner walls of the pipes. If enough ice forms, the pipes themselves may burst open.
That is why you must always be mindful of your water pipes being exposed. Close any openings along your pipes in order to keep them safe from the harsh winter weather.
Your Water Pipes Become More Susceptible to Damage
Cold temperatures can make metals more brittle. What that means is that prolonged exposure to cold air can weaken your metal water pipes. Costly repairs could be in your future if you allow your pipes to remain exposed.
You May Struggle to Get Hot Water
Wind chill will not lower the temperature of your water pipes beyond how cold the air is. The faster lowering of the temperature can still be problematic though. That is especially true if you’re trying to have a comfortable shower.
If your pipes are exposed to the cold air, they may not be able to deliver hot water. The water flowing through your shower and faucets may be lukewarm at best. This kind of problem is more common in households where the water has to cover a good amount of distance.
Does the Wind Chill Have Any Impact on Plants?
It’s no secret that the winter season is tough on most plants, but is that related to the wind chill? The science says that no, wind chill is not the culprit in this case. Once again, it’s the cold air that is more troublesome.
According to this article from Michigan State University, calm, cold air is the real threat to plants. The calm air encourages the buildup of cold layers that may settle closer to the plants. They are the ones that can cause more significant damage.
If you do have plants you can take inside during the winter, go ahead and do so. You can protect them better that way.
How Do You Calculate Wind Chill Temperatures?
Weather reporters don’t just make-up wind chill temperatures on the fly. There is actually an equation they use to figure that out.
Mental Floss notes that the equation is: 35.74 + 0.6215T – 35.75(V^0.16) + 0.4275T(V^0.16). The T is the variable for the air temperature while the V represents the wind speed. You can make the calculations easier by using the National Weather Service’s Wind Chill Calculator.
How Can You Protect Your Body against Wind Chill?
Blowing winds draw heat away from our bodies by targeting the exposed skin. Bundle up better in order to protect against the discomfort caused by the wind chill.
Wear multiple layers of clothing to keep heat inside your body. You should also cover up you’re the top of your head and your hands since heat escapes faster through those spots. Lastly, you should remain indoors whenever possible to escape the cold winds.