Winter Came Early. Are You Ready?

Many areas across the country are experiencing a fast end to the manageably crisp fall temperatures they usually enjoy, going from jacket weather to parka-and-longjohns overnight. Many areas that could expect highs to hover in the 50s are experiencing record-breaking lows; some already have a blanket of snow on the ground and below-zero wind chills.

The abrupt transition from seasonably cool to fantastically frigid likely took many readers (and this author) by surprise. Their best winter garments are probably still in storage or at the cleaners, leaving them to cobble together layered outfits to brave the cold or simply huddle indoors until the sudden cold snap passes.

If you haven’t yet bundled up, now’s a good time to start. Many retailers have announced Black Friday deals well ahead of the actual day, so you can buy yourself that new coat, sweater or blanket at a discount. Better still, you can find lightly used garments at area thrift stores supplied by ClothingDonations.org a fraction of their original retail prices.

Once you’ve got yourself covered, you’ll want to prepare for the worst. Winter storms could trap you inside for days, so make sure you have a good snow shovel and plenty of food and drinking water on hand, Simple Family Preparedness says. Stock up on wood for the fireplace and salt or sand for the sidewalks.

If an extended deep freeze is on the way, fill your gas tank to prevent fuel line freezes. Charge cell phones and fuel backup generators. Weather-strip drafty windows and doors. And refamiliarize yourself with the location of your home’s main water valve in case the pipes freeze and burst.

Most home winterization tasks are a matter of keeping snow, ice and prolonged below-zero temperatures from ruining the equipment that keeps your home climate-controlled in the first place. “Proper winterization involves a systematic review of your home’s HVAC equipment, as well as the critical structural and mechanical systems,” The Spruce says.

Check the furnace and replace filters. Cover your central air conditioning unit to prevent debris from getting in it. Inspect and clean the chimney and insulate exposed pipes against freezes. It’s a lot to get done — but once you do, you can ride out the cold winter months in calm and comfort. Get started before it’s too late!

Inexpensive Ways to Winterize the Home

You can winterize your home without spending a lot of money, according to renovation expert Bob Vila. Clean your gutters and flush your water heater to make it run more efficiently; you can also lower its settings to slash utility consumption or switch to environomentally-friendly solar heat. If you can’t afford new windows, get an inexpensive roll of weatherstripping tape and press it into place to cut drafts, and caulk gaps around windows, doors and siding. And finally, get a programmable thermostat to avoid heating your home when you’re not there.

Winterize Your Home to Save on Utility Costs

As the days get shorter (and colder), it’s time to winterize your home to stay warm without spending a lot on utilities. Start by replacing furnace filters and reversing ceiling fans, Popular Mechanics says, to warm rooms more efficiently. Cut down on drafts by using draft snakes, window films or new windows, and your thermostat won’t be tricked into churning out heat unnecessarily. And remember that every degree you lower your thermostat settings saves up to 3 percent on your heating bill — so put on a sweater and start planning a winter vacation with the money you’ll save!