Who wants to experience a winter without heat? It's downright dangerous, so check out your house well before the first frost. Inspect your furnace, ducts, chimney, and pipes for leaks, cracks or broken parts. Perform any maintenance or energy-saving tasks, like insulating pipes, sweeping the chimney or changing the furnace filter. At the same time, protect the AC by covering it with a tarp and draining the water from any connected pipes.
To keep that precious heat from escaping through cracks, attach door sweeps to the bottoms of your doors. You can also use a draft stopper (also called a draft snake or a draft guard), a long fabric tube filled with rice or beans or an inflatable pouch that blocks the gap under a door.
Late fall is a good time to change the batteries on your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Many fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning happen in the winter because people are using their furnaces and other heat sources more often.
Another easy fix is to flip the switch on your home's ceiling fans. Running them in reverse pushes heat downward into the room instead of pulling it up and away. Just don't forget to change them back in the spring!
Last but not least, make sure you have your winter tools on hand. Haul out that shovel or snow blower, ice scraper, firewood and rock salt. You'll be happy you set them aside when you open the door to 3 feet of snow.
For more about prepping for the coming cold, take a look at the links below.
- American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy. "Energy Cost Impacts on American Families, 2001-2012." (Feb. 16, 2012). http://www.americaspower.org/sites/default/files/Energy_Cost_Impacts_2012_FINAL.pdf
- Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. "Preparing for Winter." (Feb. 8, 2012). http://www.adem.arkansas.gov/ADEM/Divisions/Directors/PublicRelations/winter.aspx
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Prepare Your Home for Winter Weather." December 7, 2007. (Feb. 9, 2012). http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/beforestorm/preparehome.asp
- Evertson, Justin. "Proper Planting of Trees and Shrubs." Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Dec. 15, 2003. (Feb. 9, 2012). http://arboretum.unl.edu/poppages/treeplanting.html
- Federal Emergency Management Agency. "USFA and NFPA Join Forces to Put a Freeze on Winter Fires." Nov. 10, 2011. (Feb. 8, 2012). http://www.usfa.fema.gov/media/press/2011releases/111011.shtm
- Federal Emergency Management Agency: U.S. Fire Administration. "Winter Storms & Extreme Cold." (Feb. 9, 2012). http://www.ready.gov/winter-weather
- Howard, Brian Clark. "Winterize Your Doors: Bring Back the Draft Snake." The Daily Green. (Feb. 16, 2012). http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/tips/draft-stoppers-door-snakes
- Natural Resources Defense Council. "Energy Out the Window?" Nov. 15, 2011. (Feb. 6, 2012). http://www.nrdc.org/living/energy/energy-out-window.asp
- Solomon, Christopher. "10 Ways to Winterize Your Home -- Now." MSN Real Estate. (Feb. 5, 2012). http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=13107899
- WSU Clark County Extension. "Winter Container Care." (Feb. 9, 2012). http://clark.wsu.edu/volunteer/mg/gm_tips/WinterCare.html
- Yardener. "Winterizing Landscape Plants." (Feb. 5, 2012). http://yardener.com/YardenersPlantHelper/YardCareTechniques/WinterProtectionForPlants/WinterizingLandscapePlants