A Procrastinator’s Guide to Reducing Costs and Mouthing Off at Winter
Winter! Who invited you here so early? What happened to your pal, Autumn? No offense, but we much prefer that guy. Dress casual. Keeps it cool. Not you, Captain Freeze-joy! Is this some kind of joke? The way the trees rattle their leaves as we scramble to rake up the yard…sounds like laughter, doesn’t it? Or how the neighbors’ jack-o-lanterns grin at my stubborn refusal to don a winter coat before December.
I won’t have it, Winter! You’re here too soon. Hmm? No, I don’t want to make snow angels and go sledding. I am morally opposed to such activities this close to Thanksgiving. And don’t listen to the kids. Sure, whenever a snowflake falls, my toddler shakes with maniacal glee, but don’t let that encourage you to come early. My daughter doesn’t feel cold like us normal humans. It's as if sugary hot cocoa flows through her veins. I guess what I’m trying to tell you, Winter, with this rambling speech, is that my daughter may be a monster. Help me, please!
Look, it’s not you, Winter. It’s me. I’ve known you’ve been coming for some time. Your early arrival has made me reflect upon my own faults as a homeowner. I’ve been procrastinating. I should have winterized my property weeks ago. If you don’t mind, let me just check my to-do list. No, you can’t go see what Autumn is doing. You’re here now, Winter. You might as well help.
Rake the yard!
We bought our daughter a cute little rake to help Mommy and Daddy. She raked a whopping three leaves. Three leaves out of… I don’t know… a million!! And the trees are still holding out.
Disconnect Hoses/Shut off exterior faucets!
Have you ever tried coiling a frozen hose? Not fun, Winter. Not fun! The good news is my exterior faucets are both freeze proof. Sure, I’ll shut off the water just to be safe. But at least I’ve avoided rust pipes.
Ha! I actually did this already. Well, sort of. I cleared the leaves and sludge from the gutters along the first floor.Then vertigo kicked in and I decided I should hire professionals to clean the higher gutters. Why risk my life, or more importantly, my health insurance premium. Once those gutters and downspouts are cleared, I will have reduced my risk for ice dams.
Weatherproof Front Porch
I’m going to need your help on this one, Winter. I need to slap a protective coat of sealant on my front porch, but you’ve been letting it rain off and on. Either get Autumn back here or stop being so wishy-washy and drop those digits. A dry flurry is better than a damp drizzle at this point.
I’ve always wanted a little fountain in the backyard. One filled with fish and tiny tadpoles for my daughter to admire. What a great educational opportunity for my budding scientist. When Winter arrives, I would disconnect the fountain and bring the fish inside. The tadpoles, matured into little frogs, would… um, hibernate? Latch onto the geese and head south? I don’t know. My daughter’s the scientist, not me.
Ha! I never took the storm windows down from last year. Checkmate, Winter!
Draught and Weather Stripping
Is it bad that I can see sunlight along the base of the front door when it’s closed? If I stand barefoot next to that same door, should my toes feel like they’re Santa’s elves taking an ice sauna long side Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost? Also, is an ice sauna a thing? Perhaps I’ll buy some weather stripping for a quick, inexpensive fix to those icy drafts.
Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!
I live in an old house, with ancient windows, hardwood floors, and more drafts than a fantasy football league. The first thing I did after moving in was insulate the attic. Living by the belief that heat rises, imagine my surprise when I learned recently that older homes can lose heat through the floors. Also, my basement’s concrete floor and cinderblock walls have next to no insulating properties. So I need to insulate. A lot. Money is tight and I will have to leave this box unchecked for now. Don’t judge me, Winter.
Infrared camera speaking of drafts, I’ve been thinking about downloading an app to my smartphone that will allow me to detect where heat is escaping the house. With infrared vision, not only can I track down where I need to make repairs and insulate against heat loss, I can pretend I’m the Predator hunting down Arnold Schwarzenegger as he screams “Get to the choppa!”.
Some folks with larger homes might consider sealing off rooms that they don’t frequent during the winter. Close the vents, cover up the windows, etcetera etcetera. Our house is tiny, but I’m thinking we should close the vents in my daughter’s room. The walking-furnace won’t mind, and we can redirect that heat to the bathroom, where I like to hide from her pleas to take her out in the snow.
Lower that Thermostat
Our great nation’s own Department of Energy took time from its busy job managing our nuclear weapons arsenal to make wrong advising us good citizens to set our thermostats to 68°F during the winter. No offense, Uncle Sam! My wife says no. You may be backed by the greatest military in the world, but no number of intercontinental ballistic missiles will convince her to adjust the thermostat lower than 74°F. Even at that temperature, she’s huddled in a sweatshirt and thick woolen socks. Meanwhile, me and my little snow monster are wearing t-shirts and sweating like reactor core number 3 is a partial meltdown.
Checklist complete! Thanks, Winter. I apologize for the sarcasm. You caught me off guard, but really, you’re not so bad. In fact, you’re pretty cool! Let’s chill together. (See what I did there?) Sip some hot chocolate. By the way, you don’t have Spring’s phone number on you? Hm? Of course I want to spend time with you. No, no, I just thought I’d give spring a quick call. Don’t get upset. Put away that blizzard. Noooooo!