Preparing for Winter


By Shannon Buck – Copyright September 2006


Winter is not far off, and we are beginning to prepare at our home.  These are the steps that we are taking this year. Hopefully some of the steps will help to save us a little money.

* My old porch was rotting away. Two of the steps had already broken, and a couple more would have before winter was over. The people who built the porch hadn’t done a good job. The porch was also not very big. I recently purchased the materials to build a new one. To save on costs, my stepfather built the new porch himself. He is quite the carpenter, and I just love my new porch. He used good materials, and put it together properly. All I have to do is put the WaterSeal on to waterproof it.  I will be doing this next week.  The total cost was under $400.00. The porch is safe, and will hold a couple of chairs and a small table next year, as well as a small decorative plant stand and a clothes rack.    (Update 2011: This project may cost more now with the increase in prices over the years. Look for sources of free wood that will be sturdy enough to use, or offer to purchase unused wood from others.)

My stepfather kept a couple of the better pieces of wood from the old porch. He will be using them to make the back steps sturdier. I will not have to pay anything for that project.

* I purchased plastic for the windows and for banking the trailer at the Family Dollar today. The plastic for the banking was only $3.00 per package, and it was less per package for the window plastic. I also purchased a bundle of wood slats and some nails at the hardware store. We already have some nails and wood slats, and some of the plastic from previous years is still useable. I reuse these types of things as many times as I can to cut costs. (Update 2011: The Family Dollar still sells this, but the price may have gone up slightly. I think the Dollar Tree may have some for a dollar.)

I will have a small section of plastic between the porch and the trailer that I will leave in place permanently. This way I will not have to climb under the porch year after year. I do not like spiders.  Before putting the plastic over the rest of the skirting, I will plug in the heating tape under the trailer. This will prevent the water from freezing this winter, which will prevent my pipes from bursting.

When I clean the windows for the last time before winter, I will replace the screening and add a layer of plastic between the inner and outer windows. I will also cover the small bathroom windows with plastic.

All of these things will help to cut our heating costs this year.

* We replaced our old stove this past spring. The other one was old and barely worked. The new one is more energy efficient. We replaced the refrigerator a couple of years ago, and the water heater last spring. However, we purchased a dryer and a dishwasher. I’m not sure how all of these factors will affect the electric bill this winter. I think that I will save money in the long run.

The dishes air dry in the dishwasher. We just open the door when the dishes are done washing.  This saves on the electric bill.

The lighter laundry will still be air dried, and the dryer will be used for heavier items. We will still hang laundry during the good weather months.

I am on a payment plan with the electric company. This means that I pay the same amount every month of the year. I am paying $79.00 every month.

* I had to replace the oil tank this year as well. I had a “dog house” built around it so I can still use the #2 oil. Kerosene would be too expensive.  I am also on a payment plan for oil.

* I will discuss with my daughters (again) the importance of wearing warm clothing and covering up while watching TV. The heat will not go above 68* during the winter months, unless the temperature outside goes below 10* or 15*. I turn the heat down to 63*-65* before going to bed each night, 68* if it is below 10* to 15*. (Update 2011: At bed time each night last winter the heat was turned down to 50*-55*, except on the coldest nights when it did not go above 60*)

Family Dollar, Munising
Image by wachovia_138 via Flickr



This is tricky. We all have warm jammies and slippers, as well as robes. We keep fleece blankets or quilts on the couch and chair for when we are watching TV. We also have warm fleece blankets, quilts and big comfy comforters on our beds. You can get all of these at yardsales and discount stores if you look often enough. Rite Aid has sales on fleece throw blankets sometimes, 3 for $10.00.

* Before winter hits, we will make sure that our shovels are in good working condition, and we will get ice melter for the porch and driveway.

* We are deep cleaning the trailer as well. This includes rinsing the furnace door filter and vacuuming the vents. We will also soak the vent covers in warm soapy water and vacuum the furnace area to ensure that everything can run properly. We do have to replace one of the vent covers. This will not cost more than $10.00.

* Skye and Zowie will cover the picnic table with plastic as well. We have no place to put this during the winter months. They will stack the plastic chairs and cover them with a large trash bag. The will put the wheel barrow and the bikes into our shed.

* I picked up a rug to put in the front entry. This will keep the living room rug from getting wet. I also hope to pick up a runner for my room and Skye’s room. We do not have carpeting. I will pick the runners up at the Family Dollar if they have them, which will save a few dollars.

* I am stocking up on food, household items, and personal hygiene items as they are on sale. Sometimes I can even find a good coupon for the items we need. Coupling the sales with coupons is a great way to save money.

* If I think of it, I will purchase some of those outlet plugs that you get when you are child-proofing your home. This is supposed to stop some of those drafts from coming in, therefore reducing the need to turn up the thermostat. I may, someday, add one of those programmable thermostats.

* I use the slow cooker a lot during this time of the year. This uses less electricity, and I can buy cheaper cuts of meat without jeopardizing taste.  I start with a potato for each of us, chopped, then add the meat and cover it all with water. When I am about a half-an-hour from serving dinner, I add frozen or canned vegetables. We add our own seasonings when we fill our plates. If I use pasta instead of potatoes, I put the noodles in 5-15 minutes before serving the meal. You can make chowders and lasagna in the slow cooker as well.

Make a list of all of the things that you have to do to prepare for winter, and another of the purchases that you need to make. Starting these and beginning the work now will ensure that you do not have too much to do all at once.
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7 thoughts on “Preparing for Winter”

  1. how popular is it to live on a trailer park?
    is there a prejudice towards people who do?
    in the uk living in a caravan has slowly become more popular amongst the retired as the living space is manageable and the parks offer good security. for the rest of the population in the uk it is a minority option only.

  2. A lot of people live in trailer parks. In my area, most leave a lot to be desired. Mine certainly does, so I can understand the prejudice. There are a lot of drugs and alcohol, issues needing police.

    I just keep to myself and mind my own business. I don’t really have any problems, no one bothers me. I’m not like them. I think they get that.

    I am always friendly though, as in saying hi when you go by them, waving. So they consider me nice enough that they leave me alone, I guess.

  3. What is banking?

    I’m moving into a trailer in the spring (hubby will move in around late nov after it’s paid for and moved while he fixes the holes in the walls replaces carpets etc. I did talk him into carpet in the bdrms only) and I’d love to use alot of these ideas.

  4. First of all, is the trailer skirted? Skirting is what you put around the bottom of the trailer so that you cannot see under, and you can (try) to prevent animals from getting under there. It can be made of wood, platic, etc.

    Banking is the plastic that you put over the skirting. You purchase the plastic, wood slats and nails at the hardware store. They will know what you are talking about when you tell them about the project and why you are doing it.

    Sometimes banking is made from heavy duty felt pieces, but this costs more. I have a few sheets of this.

    Honestly, if you can afford it, I think it would be much cheaper in the long run to skirt the trailer in such a manner that you do not have to bank it each fall, and un-bank it each spring. I don’t know how much this would cost, but it would be worth looking into.

    Also, if your area does not have very cold winters, you may not need to bank the trailer. Trailers are banked to help to prevent pipes from freezing. Here in Maine, it can get to below freezing, and it can be bad if there is a wind chill factor.

    Be sure to wrap the pipes under the trailer with heat tape, which is plugged in before banking, and unplug after unbanking.

    It may be that, if winter doesn’t get too cold where you are, all you will need is heat tape or skirting. You may not need both.

    Hope this helps.
    Shannon

  5. I am happy to of found your blog. My husband recently moved up to Maine and my 3 kids and I will be coming up soon right before Winter. I have never been through a winter in my life so I don’t know what to expect. We are also low-income so all money saving tips are much appreciated. This particular entry has allowed me to get an idea of what to prepare for and how.

    Thank you.

  6. I have been hearing that this is going to be an unusually bad winter. February, in particular, is supposed to be very cold. It also feels as though winter is coming on early, which may not be a good sign.

    If your family will qualify for fuel assistance, I suggest that your husband signs up for it now.

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