Planning ahead to stay warm this winter

Published 9:33 pm Friday, November 5, 2010

It’s been a roller coaster in the weather over the past few weeks. One day, temperatures were finally dropping below 50 degrees at night; the next day, the weather did a 180 and reached summery conditions for days.

Finally, the weather dropped back down to fall temperatures. But fall didn’t last very long in finicky Virginia. Early winter set in and nights turned frosty, often dropping below freezing.

My husband and I finally reached for the thermostat and turned on the heat at the new house we just rented. We waited patiently for the toasty air to circulate through the house and warm our toes.

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It took us a day to realize that the air wasn’t warm at all, but rather it was similar in temperature to the outdoors. We’ve never encountered a broken heater before, so we thought we’d give it more time to fix itself. That night I woke up shivering in the middle of the night. I had to put on three pairs of socks and a sweater to make it to morning.

It took us another day, with me wearing gloves and wrapping my puppy in a blanket all that day, to finally realize we needed to call the landlord to fix the problem.

I’m happy to say that our landlord moved quickly, and in no time I was standing on a vent, relishing the hot air blowing on my toes.

I tell this story because these past few days of having to bundle up just to go to sleep at night could have been avoided with a few simple tests.

Dominion Virginia Power recommends replacing or cleaning filters of forced air furnaces monthly, having your heating system inspected, inspecting your home’s ductwork to ensure no heated air is escaping and sealing up windows and doors with weather stripping or caulk.

It turns out that we moved into a house with a heater that was missing a part. A simple visual inspection was all it took to discover the issue and a quick trip to the hardware store ending up being all that stood between me and having feeling in my fingers.

Temperatures have climbed back up into the 40s at night, but if I know anything about weather in Virginia, that won’t last too long. Take the time now to make sure you don’t have to worry about keeping yourself, your children or your pets warm at night.