Your preparations for winter should be well underway or finished, but if you have not made any improvements to your home or purchased the items that will give you a warm winter, do not delay! If you start now, there’s still time to get yourself squared away.
If you do use a wood stove, chances are you will not get cold, as this method of heating can be toasty warm. However, it does pay to get the chimney checked annually both for safeness and for efficiency. Someone that your local Fire Department recommends will likely do a thorough job. Making sure that your chimney is in good working order is not only improving your stove’s heating efficiency, it also helps prevent chimney fires and bad air from a chimney that isn’t drawing the smoke out of the house.
Also, be sure to order the wood in early (and chop the kindling) so that you know that the wood has had a good stretch of seasoning. Of course, if you heat by oil, usually it is advisable to order it before the ‘winter rush’, but perhaps the price fluctuations will be taken into account these days – now or later?
One of the cheapest ways to keep homes warm is to use weather stripping. Out of date it may be, but it is still effective. Apply it under and/or around doors and windows or wherever you can see the sunlight coming in or feel a draft.
Dressing indoors correctly, specifically to keep warm, will make a big difference. Layers are a great way to trap air inside your clothing – this is what keeps you warm. Keep sweaters and blankets within easy reach, so that your first impulse is to put something on rather than reach for another stick of wood or the thermostat.
Windows can cause large amounts of heat to be lost to the outside. Heavy curtains from floor to ceiling really do keep the warmth in, sometimes these can be found inexpensively. Cling film that is designed specifically for insulating windows is also a very cheap way to keep out the cold; the local hardware store will stock it.
Finally, when your local supermarket has large cans of hearty soup on sale, buy a few for winter supplies. Nothing warms quite like soup! In the event of a power cut, you can open the tin and stand it on your wood stove for a quick warm up meal.
Now is the time to get yourself on a list if you feel that you may be a qualifier with the Division of Energy Assistance (DEA).This government department publishes reports related to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
LIHEAP’s mandate is to assist low income households who pay out a high proportion of their household income on their immediate home energy needs. Mostly they are concerned with the most ‘vulnerable’ individuals in the household, such as the elderly, or the very young.
Funds are distributed from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to LIHEAP grantees in each state (i.e. you do not contact the Federal Government for this). This can be accessed by either phoning your state or by using the Internet and typing in the state name followed by LIHEAP grants.
Preparing for winter is a smart idea at any time, but if you are only starting now, you can still make improvements that will save you money and keep you warm. Don’t lose any more time!