2009 Preparation for cold winter months



This will be my daughter Callye’s first winter in her new home and the first time she has to pay to heat her home. Before it gets cold and we, like Calleye, have to turn on our home heating systems, we should check our homes for leaks and cracks that let heat escape and cold air inside.

The following guide will help you prepare for the approaching winter:

• One reason we give for raising our home thermostat is to protect our health. For most people, however, lowering the temperature will not result in a cold (remember colds are caused by germs).

• By using energy efficiently, you can protect your family and avoid wasting precious fuel. Careful use of energy can also help control your cold-weather utility bills.

• It is recommended that you keep your home thermostat in the range from 65oF to 72oF for general comfort. Seniors need a higher range from 72oF to 75oF. Keep in mind, this temperature setting should be set back five to 10 degrees during the night. Also keep in mind that some individuals may need slightly higher temperatures.

Your home should be just as prepared for winter as you are. Here are some things you can do to protect your home and stay comfortable:

• Insulate your house. Reduce air leaks to keep heat in and cold out. Caulk and weather strip doors and windows. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic. Insulate walls and attics.

• Keep pipes from freezing. Wrap the pipes in insulation made especially for water pipes or in layers of old newspapers, lapping the ends and tying them around the pipes. Cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.

• When it is extremely cold and there is real danger of freezing, let the faucets drip a little. Although this wastes water, it may prevent freezing damage.

• Heat may be wasted by inefficient heating systems. Contact your heating system technician and have your unit cleaned and serviced yearly. Cleaning and servicing your unit according to manufacturing recommendations can reduce heating costs up to ten percent for gas units and twenty percent for oil systems.

The ability to tolerate cooler temperatures varies among individuals, just as comfort levels do. Wet and windy weather conditions magnify the effects of cold temperatures and make it harder for the body to maintain its natural warmth.

When your home is without heat because of malfunctioning equipment, broken power lines, lack of fuel or any other reason, there are ways to preserve some of the home’s heat and stay relatively comfortable:

• Dress warmly. Wearing layers of protective clothing is more effective than a single layer of thick clothing. Layers entrap and insulate air that is warmed by body heat.

• Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals. This allows the body to produce its own heat efficiently, especially from quick energy foods (dry fruit like raisins, vegetables, other such foods).

These few tips may help us all save a little on our home heating cost during cold temperatures this winter.