Your Home – Getting Prepared for the Winter Months

December 2019 Newsletter

Winter is just around the corner, and while it is a distracting season with preparations for Christmas holidays and that well-earned vacation time within reach, there is also a checklist of things you should be doing to prepare for winter to make sure you stay safe in this snow-covered season.

Preparing for winter is just as important as preparing for the rainy season. As for most places, the cold brings different types of dangers that we don’t usually prepare for, such as snow, ice and fire hazards in the home.

So while you’re thinking of what to plan with family and friends for the season’s holiday, use this list to check off some important preparations that need to be done in and around the home.

Check for any gaps around windows and door frames

If a credit card can fit in any of the gaps, you’re going to lose a tremendous amount of heat, thereby paying unnecessarily large sums of money for power bills or your stored solar heating. Use silicone caulk (sealant) on the outside of the windows and door frames to fill any gaps. Most of the caulk fillers available are quite cheap, and one time should do the trick.

Make sure you get an all-weather caulk so that you don’t have to do it again next season.

If you have an attic stairway, these are a sure spot for heat loss. Use an attic stairway cover over the stairway to insulate it so you can keep the warmth trapped in your cozy home and save on power bills.

Switching the fans to reverse

If you have ceiling fans with a reverse switch, use it. Ceiling fans are shaped so that if they run in a clockwise direction, they will push the heat down in the room instead of allowing it to naturally rise.

This is a great approach for homes with high ceilings to keep the warmth down around the people rather than rising to the ceiling.

Bring garden hoses and sprinklers inside and remove any water in them

Leaving hoses and sprinklers outside can cause them damage, especially if they still have water in them. Allowing the water to freeze in a hose outside can cause it to expand and spring leaks; the same thing can happen to the taps and faucets if you leave the hose connected to the home systems. Remove all of the hoses and bring them into your garage, and drain the water out of them as well.

Make sure you also turn off any outdoor faucets tightly, as undrained water pipes will freeze as well, causing the same expansion problems.

Clean the garage so you can park your vehicles in it

Nothing is worse than having massive amounts of ice and snow piled on your car. It is also much better for any other vehicles, such as the lawnmower, to be sitting in a garage rather than outdoors during the winter months. So when you have time, move some of those things around so you can bring the car in.

Prepare your heaters to fight the cold

One of the biggest things for heaters, or more specifically fireplace chimneys, is to make sure they are clean to avoid chimney fires. Chimney fires happen when there is a build-up of a highly-combustible residue caused from fireplaces that stick to the inside walls of the chimney. This can cause severe structural damage to the chimney and the rest of the building as it catches on fire in its explosive manner. You can get a professional cleaning done by contacting any local qualified chimney evaluators and cleaners.

Also change the filter in your furnace. This is generally an annual thing to do, just to make sure it operates in a clean and effective manner.

Get the right winter tools to deal with ice and snow

Get a snow shovel. Try to get something wide that can handle a large amount of snow and can scrape against the ground like any snow pusher should. You can apply a silicone spray to them, which will help the snow not to stick to the shovel quite so much.

If you’re dealing with the ice, you may want to purchase a good quality ice chipper. You also may want to keep some sidewalk salt handy to scatter on the driveway and sidewalks around the house. Sidewalk salt melts the ice, which makes it easier to remove.

Also, make sure to dress in layers and have warm enough clothes on to be working in the cold weather.

Check your fire extinguishers

Winter is the peak period for indoor fire-related issues just because of the number of heaters and fires that are blazing to help keep us warm. So it is wise to make sure all of your fire extinguishers are checked to see if they are up to date; and make sure your family knows some simple fire emergency tips, as well as how to use the fire extinguishers.

To use a fire extinguisher correctly, remember the PASS system, which stands for:

  • P – Pull the pin. It is there to prevent accidental discharge.
  • A – Aim low at the base of the fire. This is the where the fuel source is.
  • S – Squeeze the lever above the handle. Release to stop the flow.
    (Some extinguishers have a button instead of a lever)
  • S – Sweep from side to side. Move toward the fire, aiming low at its base. Sweep until all flames are extinguished. Watch for re-igniting. Repeat as necessary.

Finances – Pay Yourself


It may seem unrealistic to talk about paying yourself first when you’re faced with so many other financial obligations. Yet, while it’s critical to pay all your bills on time, planning for your future can’t always take a back seat. If you’re having trouble finding ways to pay yourself first, try taking these steps to get into the habit:

Figure out how much you can afford. If you take a close look at your expenses, you may find that even small changes in spending habits, such as bringing your lunch to work or making less frequent trips to the salon, could create big savings over time.

Set a personal payment goal. If you know you can only pay yourself a small amount right now, look for opportunities to increase these payments in the future. Determine how much of your monthly salary you need to set aside to meet your financial goals, such as paying for a vacation or saving for a college education. Then, find ways to make changes that will impact your expenses in the long-term. If you decide, for example, that you can manage without premium cable channels, update your plan the next time your contract is up, and put the difference toward your savings goals.

Create a savings strategy. Once you’ve found the money you need to pay yourself first, it’s important to find a smart way to save those funds until they’re needed. You can start by moving money into a savings account once a month. There are two easy ways to do this. One, split your direct deposit so that a certain amount or percentage goes directly into your savings account before you can spend it. Or, set up an automatic transfer for each payday, regularly sending money from your checking account to your savings account. This can help you get used to managing living expenses with what looks like a smaller paycheck, when actually you’re building up your own savings. You can set up, modify, and cancel transfers as needed. The most important part is to stay consistent and to treat the money you’ve saved as if it’s off-limits, except for its intended purpose or a true financial emergency.

Advantages of “Paying Yourself First”
The advantage of “paying yourself first” out of your paycheck is that you build up a nest egg to secure your future and create a cushion for financial emergencies, such as your car breaking down or unexpected medical expenses. Without savings, many people report experiencing a large amount of stress. However, many people claim that they simply do not earn enough money to save and fear that if they start saving, they may not have enough money to cover their bills.

This article is for information, illustrative and entertainment purposes only and does not purport to show actual results. It is not, and should not be regarded as investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular investment action.

Personal Interest – “Resolutions”


The New Year is slowly nearing, and with the holiday season already upon us, many people are indulging in retrospection and reevaluating some of their life choices. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week, next month, or perhaps when winter starts.

Well, now’s your chance to sit down and prepare a list of important lifestyle changes you want to make. To get that list going, we’ve made it easier for you to get started by providing ways you can start making those changes today!

Get in shape: Losing weight is the top resolution for Americans; and combined with “exercise more” and “stay fit and healthy” it is something that over a third of the population wishes to achieve. It’s easy enough to start an exercise and diet program, but the trick is to find a decent one that will give you steady results and will be easy to stick to in the long run.

Start eating healthier food, and less food overall: This is usually an extension of the previous resolution. Switching to a healthier diet can be incredibly tricky when Americans are surrounded by cheap junk food. However, with a good amount of determination and some basic tips you can slowly develop healthier eating habits. Learn to control emotional eating, be aware of the reasons for diets to fail.

Stop procrastinating: The biggest barrier that keeps most people from reaching their goals is the desire to relax and do something fun instead of working hard. Once you get used to procrastinating it’s difficult to snap yourself out of it; so you’ll need to put in a lot of work to change this bad habit. There are many useful tips out there to find your way to stop procrastinating. Such as, setting aside a definite time for an assignment to be completed. Say this assignment wasn’t finished in the allotted time, create a form of punishment that will prevent that from happening again, such as giving a sum amount of money to your partner or spouse.

Meet new people: When we get stuck in a rut, we usually end up staying at home most of the time, missing out on a lot of interesting opportunities for networking and having fun. Meeting new people can be beneficial to your mental well-being and help your career, so don’t be afraid to get out there and make some friends. Overcome your shyness, get some knowledge, and go and get to know new and interesting people.

Give up cigarettes (of course, only if you are a smoker): This is a bad habit that a lot of people don’t know how to kick. Smoking will not only endangers your health, it can burn a hole in your wallet as well. Just be prepared to dedicate a lot of willpower to giving up cigarettes once and for all.

Watch less TV: The average person wastes a lot of time in front of the TV, time that could have been better spent developing skills, learning, or keeping your body active. Once you manage to cut down on TV time, you will realize just how long and productive a day can really be.

Read more: Books are an excellent way to gain a lot of knowledge on a huge variety of topics, and are also a great exercise for your brain. It’s not that difficult to go through 20 or more books in a year – you only need to make it a habit, discover your favorite type of book and find a bit of time for reading here and there.

And become tidier: There are a lot of slobs out there who can’t really get their stuff organized; and a cluttered desk or chaotic home will negatively affect your productivity and even your mood. So it helps to clear the clutter, clean your house, and lead a tidier and more organized life.
Don’t forget

Important Dates:

December 7 – National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
December 22-30 – Hanukkah
December 25 – Christmas
December 31 – New Year’s Eve

Words to live by:

The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.
– Alan Saporta

Thank you and have a great month!

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Paul Stella