7 Ways to Prep for Winter Now

Believe it or not, September is the time to act so you're not left out in the cold later

Ronald Agrella (@ronagrella) Home September 8, 2015

If you were hoping for a mild winter, you may be out of luck. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts above-normal amounts of snow and below-normal temps across much of the United States this winter.

Whether or not you believe the predictions, experts say if you're smart, you'll make a few key moves now, before the first frost, that will put you ahead of the game when the first snowflake hits.

1. Hire a snowplow contractor

Snow plow Snow plow Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock

If you prefer to hire a plow rather than clear snow yourself, shop around now, get pricing and reserve one. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends gathering several written estimates and asking for references. Ask the contractor if he or she charges a flat rate, if rates vary by snowfall amounts and what additional services, such as sanding or salting, may be included or if there’s an additional charge. Look for BBB reviews or online reviews. When you’re satisfied, reserve their services and make sure your agreement is in writing.

2. Order firewood

Firewood bundles Firewood bundles Photo: welcomia/Shutterstock

One wood supplier in Massachusetts reports he’s been inundated with early orders from residents who are already stockpiling. A warm fire not only creates ambience but can be a vital heating source if power is lost. The price of a cord of wood will vary by state and region, so shop around. There may be an additional charge if you want it stacked. It’s also best to have your chimney or stove pipe professionally cleaned before the start of burning season.

Related: Prepare Your House for Winter Storms

3. ​Buy or service snow blowers

Snow blower Snow blower Photo: Marcel Jancovic/Shutterstock

Consumer Reports says the best time to buy a snow blower is in August and September. Read reviews before you shop. If you already own a snow blower, get it serviced ahead of the season — some businesses offer fall specials.

4. ​Buy and learn how to use a generator

Gas-powered generator Gas-powered generator Photo: canoniroff/Shutterstock

Gas-powered generators are typically in short supply and can be more expensive in winter. Buying one early can help guarantee you’re set up for the season. First, calculate your home’s electrical needs. At minimum, a unit should be able to power your heating system, refrigerator, sump pump, water-well pump and other critical systems in the house. A qualified electrician can advise you and even hook up a transfer switch so you aren’t running cords into the house. Take the time to review instructions in the owner’s manual.

5. Stock up on snow supplies

Snow supplies Snow supplies Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Buy ice melt, snow shovels, snow rake, batteries and even canned food and toiletries. These are essential items that sell out quickly right before a blizzard. For a full list, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Winter Weather Checklist. Make sure the kids have winter gear that fits, including hats, gloves, boots, snow pants and coats. And make sure you have a full set of the same gear. It’s no fun shoveling if you have only one glove.

Related: The Do’s and Don’ts of Clearing Snow from a Roof

6. Buy home heating fuel

Warm hands over a heater Warm hands over a heater Photo: Konstantin Gushcha/Shutterstock

Generally speaking, the warmer months are less expensive times to buy fuel for the winter heating season simply due to supply and demand. Buying oil and propane fuel is always a gamble as market prices fluctuate, but most heating fuel is mostly likely less expensive now than it will be in frigid February.

7. Prep your car and yard

Mechanic checking tires and car Mechanic checking tires and car Photo: Minerva Studio/Shutterstock

In the yard, place markers along the perimeter of your driveway to guide snow removal. Drain spigots and blow out the water from underground sprinklers. For your car, a mechanic should add winter-grade oil, check your battery, make sure there’s enough tread on your tires (or install snow tires) and winterize your coolant.

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