Prepping for a 'Winter of the Great Divide'

It seemed like someone flipped a switch this week... Here in Maryland, we went from the high 80s of summer to waking up to temperatures in the mid-50s.

And we're not the only ones feeling the chill. Last week, Colorado saw snow... before temperatures soared back up to the 70s.

It's no wonder that as we head into fall, folks are already talking about the winter.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says La Niña has already hit and will likely stay through the winter. "La Niña" refers to when the jet stream across the U.S. shifts north. That typically brings dry, warm winters to the south and west. But it also means California could continue to burn in these dry conditions well into the New Year.

And if you look at the Farmer's Almanac, our home state of Maryland should see a February blizzard of at least a foot or two of snow. The publication, which has predicted weather patterns since 1818, calls this coming season the "winter of the great divide." And it's not talking a divide culturally (though with the upcoming election, that's likely as well). It's talking about how varied conditions will be: "Cold and snowy conditions in the north, drought in the west, and everything crazy in between," the publication's spokesperson recently reported.

No matter where you live, you're likely to experience an unusual winter. So regardless of how much snow or ice we get, there's something everyone reading this needs to do... prepare for the worst.

As I always say, "hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." That's very true when the seasons change. Winterizing your home now before the real cold creeps in will save you time and money.

Here are some of my best tips for getting your house in shape for the winter season...

1. Buy a snow shovel now. I know, it's hard to remember to do this while the weather is still nice... but once the first snow hits, stores will sell out quickly. You don't want to face a sudden snowstorm without one.

And given the likelihood of another surge in coronavirus cases, we'd suggest stocking up on essentials now, too. Toilet paper won't go bad. Neither will pantry staples like canned fruits and vegetables.

2. Clean your gutters. As we move into fall, gutters clog with leaves, sticks, acorns, and the like. Be sure to clear these out so when the snow and sleet start, the water can run off your roof effectively. If your gutter is clear, it's less likely to fall off and cause damage.

3. Check your heater. Change or clean the filter in your home's heating system. If you have radiators, make sure you bleed them to get out any excess air. If you have a chimney, consider sealing it if you don't plan to use it. If you do want to use it, get it properly cleaned. If you have oil heat, check on all of the parts of the unit and make sure to insulate any lines exposed to the outdoors. Consider filling the tank, too, so you can avoid any delays when the weather gets cold and demand rises.

No matter what type of heating you have, be sure to give it a test run now. You don't want to face the surprise of needing it and finding it broken.

4. 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 also helps block out the cold air.

5. 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 expenses of heating her house. She has the thermostat set at 62 degrees while no one's at home.

These are just a few tips I've shared over the years. I've written about preparing for any kind of disaster, including hurricanes, blizzards, massive power outages, and more. You can find my best tips for survival in my book The Doctor's Protocol Field Manual right here. If haven't read my book, you can order it  right here.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
September 17, 2020