Plan and prepare for winter
Autumn brings thoughts of rising utility bills. For some, heating costs aren’t merely an annoyance, but have become a bill that needs to be well planned for. Now is a good time to prepare for the upcoming colder temperatures.
The following are some strategies to prepare for cold weather:
Pull out the flannel or polar fleece sheets, layers of clothing, extra blankets, wool socks or slippers. Electric blankets and mattress pads, hot water bottles, and homemade rice heating pads (made by filling a clean tube sock with uncooked rice and heating in the microwave) can be used to warm up, too.
Seal out the drafts:
Many put up window film, but there are alternatives. You can consider temporary removable weather sealants, such as Windjammer by Liquid Nails. It’s a removable sealant that can be applied around doors and windows. Or try window quilts, draft stoppers, space blankets from the sporting department, foam insulation, door insulation kits or bubble wrap. Make sure curtains and blinds are closed at night and allow sun in during the day. If you have a fireplace, consider inflatable draft stoppers.
If you get chilly inside, it’s a great motivator to get off the couch and use exercise equipment that’s been collecting dust. Frugal comfort foods such as hot soups and stews or hot beverages such as cocoa and tea can chase away a chill, too. Pay attention to any money leaks, so you can allot more money for the increased winter costs. Lower your thermostat a bit when you leave your home for an hour or more. (Think: work, errands, the library or when visiting friends and family.)
Get busy with a checklist:
Look into programmable thermostats if you don’t have one already and have your furnace serviced. They’ll check pressure, blower, motors, leaks, etc., and give you a diagnostic report. Ducts should be cleaned, and you can clean or change the filter. Insulate your hot water tank and consider lowering its temperature. Look into the budget plan with your utility company and inquire if they offer energy audits or any incentives on Energy Star appliances. Consider outdoor landscaping that can serve as a wind barrier, such as a blue spruce. Discover whether a wood-burning stove, insulated drapes, and space heaters are cost-effective for your family.
Take the time to clean your gutters so they’re free from leaves and debris. Clogged gutters can cause a lot of damage to your roof and exterior of your home when snow and ice thaw. While you’re up on the roof, check to see if any trees need trimming so they don’t fall on your electrical lines or damage your roof or windows during a storm. If you live in a heavy snow area, consider investing in a snow rake or broom for your roof.
Assemble kits for your home and vehicles. For your car, include items such as extra blankets or clothing, a first-aid kit, basic tools, a flashlight, flares, jumper cables, water, ice scrapers, shovels, kitty litter and nonperishable food such as energy bars. For home, check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (you can have a fire drill and discuss emergency safety plans, too). Your home kit should include spare batteries, candles, flashlights, food and water, a crank radio, a first-aid kit, basic tools, personal hygiene items, prescriptions, entertainment, important documents, clothing and bedding, whistles, a manual can opener, a utility knife, matches/lighter, baby wipes, garbage bags, change or traveler’s checks and a fire extinguisher.
Stock your medicine cabinet with cold and flu supplies such a cough drops, cold and cough medicine and vitamin C so you don’t have to run to the pharmacy if you get sick. Buy a vaporizer if you don’t have one. They work well when you’re sick and add moisture to the dry air in your house during the winter. Have a few books handy for winter reading, too.