The Weather Channel is predicting colder than average temperatures through January for the Plains states and the area from southeast Texas to the Florida panhandle. Whether you live in a major metropolitan area or have a ranch covering several acres, winter preparedness is fairly similar for just about every home. You need to keep everybody safe and warm and take all the necessary precautions to prevent extreme weather from damaging your home.
These four tips cover the most important items.
1. Drain Sprinkler System
The first freeze of the year can mean large repair bills for homeowners who have neglected to address their irrigation systems and exposed pipes beforehand. This is particularly the case with PVC pipes, but polyethylene pipes can also be damaged, despite their elasticity.
Most sprinkler systems can be drained manually. The valve is typically located at the bottom of the mainline. Make sure to wear eye protection and release all pressure from the line before draining to prevent injury. The blow-out method, using compressed air to clear the pipes, is the only way to 100 percent guarantee no water is left inside. You can do this on your own, but due to the inherent dangers, it’s better to hire a professional.
All pipes in unheated areas of your home (garage, attic, etc.) should be insulated with pipe-wrapping material that can be found at any hardware store.
2. Close the Pool
There are different methods for winterizing in-ground and above-ground pools, but the end result is similar. Use granular chlorine to lower the overall chlorine level of the water and save your cover from being damaged. After a thorough cleaning, lower the water level to about one foot below the tile for mesh covers and about six inches for floating covers. Buy a winter closing kit that comes with everything you’ll need, including instructions. Cleaning methods for filters and lines will vary by pool, so follow the manufacturers instructions carefully.
3. Clean Gutters
Gutter cleaning is not glamorous, and it can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not exercised. The two most important factors for safe gutter cleaning are a dry roof and a ladder long enough to extend beyond the roof. To prevent slips and falls, do not climb on the roof if it has rained in the past 24 hours. Leaf blowers are effective for cleaning long gutter sections, but its best to watch a professional do it once before attempting this yourself.
4. Save Yourself Money With These Simple Upgrades
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that heating costs were higher for 90 percent of Americans homes last year than the winter of 2012-13. This was mostly due to higher costs for natural gas and propane.
A great way to cut energy bills is to invest in heated bedding. The Electric Blanket Institute (yes, this really exists) estimates a typical household can save up to $40 per month on heating costs by turning down the thermostat 10 degrees while sleeping. Make certain the electric blankets you choose are marked with Underwriters Laboratories safety approval (UL #964). A winterized home also has all gaps wider than a nickel between door and windows frames chalked to keep the warm air in and cold air out.
Every home has unique features, so winterization steps will vary. But completing all of the above are steps in the right direction.
Winters can be really brutal here in Michigan. Thank you for all the tips.
I’m always a little leery about using electric blankets but many people love them.
We’ve done a lot to keep this place warmer as well as the Roost. Even though we don’t live at the Roost we still pay utilities there, so it’s really “tight” and 55 keeps it very tolerable even though we haven’t completed the sheetrock, carpeting & vinyl. This is also the time I do most of my baking & re-seasoning my cast iron cookware so turning down the thermostat helps.
We keep the thermostat at 61 during the day and 58 at night. Now, I know that’s way too cold for most people, but the ex and my son are both comfortable at 50 degrees, so that’s a compromise. Anyway, I found a feather bed-topper at Wal-Mart online for $65 that’s absolutely wonderful for keeping me warm at night. I also sleep on an unzipped 10-degree sleeping bag, occasionally sliding my feet inside it for extra warmth. On really cold nights, I add a hot water bottle and wear thermals. I’m with Clara at being wary of electric blankets, not to mention what you’d do when the power goes, but I’m content with my little winter nest. If you’re turning the heat down to save on costs, remember to layer your blankets. I like using several lightweight ones rather than a heavy comforter, because I can add or remove them as needed through the night.
I admire you for being able to keep your thermostat so low! A few years ago it didn’t bother me, but now it seems the cold just hurts more.
We keep our house at 67 or 68 and that is marginally comfortable. I’m always trying to save money on the heating bills so this temperature with a few layers of clothes is the compromise.
On another topic, I read a few other websites and I am amazed how friendly the group here is on SCP!
Everyone can have an opinion and speak their mind without someone else making a nasty comment.
It feels like a group of friends getting to enjoy each others company and share thoughts.
I feel blessed to having found all of you.
Happy New Year,
I guess we’re a bit more sensitive to the cold here in SE NM, not having all that much experience with ‘real’ cold. Our winter hit yesterday and the high was 19. We keep our rear HVAC unit (the master bedroom) at 62 and, until yesterday, it had not come on but maybe three times all winter. The front one I leave at 65 because, when I’m at work, I worry about our dogs (more than I ever did about our kids). But, we heat the front of the house with a Jotul air tight stove. I had not noticed the front unit coming on at all this winter and this morning, as Karen and I were having our coffee and tea, it came on. Obviously, for the the first time of the winter, with some dust and smell of burning dust.
We use down comforters in the bedroom. On days that the sun shines, the temperature in the back of the house rarely drops below 65, and we use no other source of heat back there but the HVAC unit, although we do have a good fireplace in the bedroom.
We keep the thermostat here at this place set at 67 and sleep with long handles & a fleece blanket. If we get too chilly, we just add another fleece blanket. We have a thermal blanket and a comforter available if needed. Also keep a couple sleeping bags “available” for a sudden & temporary emergency loss of heat. We also have a good supply of fleece caps too!
Well, temperature sharing I keep mine at 63 all the the time with a morning warm up to 67 and then back down. I have a down comforter and often actually get too warm so have micro fleece blankets to switch to. The cuddle duds fleece are great. The Chinese guideline in areas that have no heat is keep adding layers to the core till the hands get warm. Vests work well.
This ought to bring a laugh of recognition to some…. maintaining comfortable temperature is a little harder for the ladies….get cold, put on another layer and have some hot coffee… too much adjustment… get too warm, take off a layer…. repeat, repeat.
That is a true statement if ever I heard one! A medical person told me that it can be true for women their entire lives.
I was always too warm and now I’m usually too cold.
On with the blankets, then off with the blankets.
On with the sweatshirts, then off with the sweatshirts.
My husband has given up and goes along with my adjusting the thermostat up or down or however it suits the moment. Ha.
Welllll.. I’ve been married 3 times.
LOL – it’s not survival or backpacking books/articles that have led me to my ‘normal’ winter wear of multiple layers of shirts/sweatshirts/jackets/etc. instead of 1 big ol’ heavy winter coat :)
Yes…for those who do “power surgers” as I call them :-) A bit of trouble to when you have to un-layer to visit the potty…:-( Even a “Go-Girl” won’t help during that scenario!
Speaking of unlayering, our bathroom at work is outside and around the corner. You either run out there in your shirtsleeves and freeze, or you try to figure out how to do your business while all bundled up. There’s nowhere to hang anything, and the floor’s a muddy mess, so “breaks” tend to be very short. We’ve started a competition to see who’s the fastest. Gotta find some kind of humor in this weather!
On something “Off Topic” I wondered if any of you are experienced with growing and storing garlic? When I pulled mine this year I dried it out of the sun in the garage, brushed off the dirt, etc.
Now a few months later it is starting to turn brown and rot.
I stored in the kitchen pantry in a wicker basket where it is dark and the temperature is around 67 degrees.
Thanks for any information you can share!