Over the weekend, the East Coast was hit with a record-setting blizzard.
Our office here in Baltimore was buried... We saw nearly 30 inches of snow, shutting down the city.
But winter storms don't just trap you at home... They can hurt your health and your wallet.
So today, we’re reviewing some helpful tips for winterizing your home and your car so you can be better prepared – and save money – when the next storm hits. And we’ll tell you the three must-have items to stay safe during a crisis.
Save Money: Tips for Your Home and Car
1. Plug up the drafts. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts account for up to 30% of your home's energy use. A tube of sealant caulk costs about $5 and can seal up those drafts around windows and doors. Adding a rolled-up towel or a stuffed draft blocker at the base of your door helps block out the cold air, as well.
2. Lower your thermostat. For every 24 hours the temperature is set one degree lower, you can save 2% off your energy bill. My assistant Laura recently installed a programmable thermostat in her own home to offset some of the higher expense due to the cold winter. She has the thermostat set at 62 degrees while no one's at home.
3. Lower your hot water heater. The ideal water temperature for a hot water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. But many manufacturers set theirs to 140 degrees. Lowering your heater by 20 degrees can cut 6%-10% off your bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
4. Check your car battery and connectors. Car batteries more than three years old are more likely to die in the cold. Auto care centers like Sears will test your battery for free, or you can pick up a battery tester on Amazon.com for about $20.
5. Keep your tires full. Air contracts in the cold, reducing your tire pressure. This keeps you from having the best traction on slippery winter roads. Many gas stations offer free air refilling stations with built-in pressure gauges.
6. Get an oil change. Oil thickens as it gets colder, so make sure you replace it regularly and always use the proper amount to keep your engine running well. Save some money and change your oil yourself.
For your personal safety, it's also important to keep an emergency kit in your trunk. Include a blanket, road salt, and a flashlight.
In my book, the Doctor's Protocol Field Manual, I wrote about how important it is to maintain emergency supplies in the event of a crisis – particularly one that lasts more than a few hours.
Even if you don't live in an area where snowstorms happen, you should still make sure to have these items for other disasters like earthquakes, landslides, power outages, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Here are the top three must-have items I recommend everyone keep in their homes.
1. Water. You should keep at least one gallon of water per person per day in reserve for drinking purposes. If you live in an arid climate, you may want to store up to three gallons of water per person per day. Use the formula below to calculate the total amount of water you need:
__(number of people) x __(number of gallons) x __(number of days) = ________
So if you have four people in your family... and plan for one gallon of drinking water per day for each person... and you plan to keep a seven-day supply... you'll need to store at least 28 gallons of water (4 x 1 x 7 = 28).
2. Food. The absolute best food for emergency prep is canned soup. It's the main surplus food supply I keep in my own home. It's compact and easy to store. It will give you all the nutrients you need. And it keeps for a long time.
I also recommend stocking up on peanut butter. It's a great source of protein, dietary fiber, some carbs, and fat. Just be sure to get natural peanut butter that's just peanuts and salt, no added sugars.
3. Power. Aside from stockpiling batteries, you can also invest in a small generator for power. The right gasoline-powered generator can provide all the electricity you need to maintain everyday living. You can power your lights, refrigerator, water heater, and electric stoves.
Of course, this requires a great deal of fuel. When confronted with an outage of unknown duration, it's wise to conserve fuel by using the generator for bare necessities only.
And remember: NEVER RUN A GENERATOR INSIDE THE HOUSE OR GARAGE. Generators emit lethal fumes. These machines always require good ventilation.
So whether you're facing a mild snowstorm or a major blizzard, use our tips to stay prepared and safe this winter.
- Popular Mechanics wrote about even more ways to winterize your home.
- The U.S. is no stranger to blizzards – read all about the 10 worst blizzards in history.
- Something different: If you're sick of the cold, warm up with this jazzy number by Ella Fitzgerald.
P.S. We cover everything you need to survive any crisis in my book, TheDoctor's Protocol Field Manual. It details how to handle real-life crises, from what to do on a crashing jet-liner to how to ship your assets offshore. Use it as your go-to guide in almost any type of crucial situation.
For current Retirement Millionaire subscribers, you can read an electronic PDF of the book here for free. It might save your life.
If you're not a Retirement Millionaire subscriber, or if you want a physical book, you can get your copy of The Doctor's Protocol Field Manual here.