By now most of us are channeling our way through mountains of snow following snowmageddon (I’m taking a short break to warm my frozen hands after shoveling for two hours this morning). Building up so much snow against our bungalow caused me to return to a question I have every time we get dumped on like this by Mother Nature: do the heavy banks of snow against a house's foundation act as a kind of insulation, helping to retain heat? Or does the snow act more like ice in a cooler, chilling the house?
I'm inclined to believe the snow insulates more than it chills. It's tough to find a very scientific answer to my question, but these two blog write-ups on the subject seem logical enough: "Using Snow to Insulate Your House" at self-reliance-works.com and "It's cold! What difference does snow make?" from scienceandsarcasm.com. The conclusion is that snow does have an insulating quality, though I would suspect it's minimal -- foundation snow berms and a little roof top snow help, perhaps, but unless our homes are totally buried they're not insulated all that much.
That said, I haven't found a source yet that says snow chills a house. So keep shoveling! There's nowhere else for this much snow to go anyway, other than against our homes. Hopefully it's helping to keep our houses a tiny bit more insulated so that when we return inside from shoveling, we're a little warmer.