50 & Up Start prepping for winter (yes, already)

Start prepping for winter (yes, already)

50 & Up

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Early start can make time and money spent more manageable

With warmer days in Maine winding down, thinking about winter snow may make you wince. If you have lived in the Northeast for any length of time, however, you probably know the importance of preparation. Ensuring that your garden, automobile and home are ready for winter weather can feel overwhelming, but if you start early, you can spread the time and cost around a little.

Several simple and inexpensive things you can do now will help keep your fuel costs down. For example, you can apply caulk around windows and replace tired weather stripping around doors. You can also hang heavy drapes or fabric over windows to keep cold drafts out and the heat in. Be sure to schedule a furnace tune-up and filter change with your utility service provider. Quite often, this can be done for free, and it will make your furnace run more efficiently.

If your town is one of the 40 communities in Maine to have joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, you may have either free or low-cost programs available right in your community. Being a member of the NAFC means that the community’s elected leadership has made the commitment to actively work toward making their town, city or neighborhood a great place for people of all ages. If you need help with smaller home repair jobs, for example, there are interesting initiatives underway in many of Maine’s NAFC communities. In Richmond and Bowdoinham, for example, a program run by the local masons provides free assistance to seniors who need help with small jobs and minor home repairs. Find out more about our age-friendly work in Maine by sending an email to me@aarp.org.

If your home needs more extensive work to become energy efficient, state and federal low-interest loans could help. You can also upgrade to more efficient light bulbs. Efficiency Maine has great tips on lighting and other ways to save money. Visit their website at www.efficiencymaine.com to find out more.

If you use wood as a primary source of heat, ordering before the snow starts to fall could save you money. If you have a dry space for storage, pallets of compressed wood bricks can be delivered to your home already stacked for around the same cost as cord wood.

Avoid braving overcrowded stores with empty shelves just before a storm and put together your storm provisions now. Fill a box or bag with items you may need in a power-outage such as batteries, energy efficient LED flashlights and nonperishable foods such as peanut butter, crackers, raisins and canned goods.

Finally, schedule a tune-up with your auto mechanic to ensure that your vehicle is running smoothly. Also, consider refreshing your defensive driving skills. The AARP Driver Safety class features a segment on winter driving, and completing the course can save you money on your auto insurance. Go to www.aarp.org/driversafety or call 1-888-OUR-AARP for more information.

A little extra preparation now can make a big difference especially when our much-anticipated summers are so short.

Jane Margesson is the communications director for AARP Maine.

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