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Preparing homes, vehicles and yourself for winter weather

Published: Monday, Oct. 22 2012 5:38 p.m. MDT

Some drivers may choose to switch to snow tires in the winter, Edwards said, which do provide better traction in wet or snowy conditions. But having well-maintained tires with good treads is important if snow tires are not an option.

Wiper blades and batteries also are key items to have in good working order during the winter months, he said.

In addition, every fall, have the radiator system serviced or check the antifreeze level with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze as needed, and replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture. It's simple prevention that can be a life-saver.

Preparing yourself

Being able to manage expenses in winter can be a challenge for many individuals and families. The best way to handle costs is to follow a budget year-round, said Jerry Van Os, associate dean of the Gore School of Business at Westminster College.

"You can (often) anticipate what your higher expenses are, like electricity and natural gas costs," Van Os said. Arranging "budget billing" with utilities could help spread costs over the entire year and prevent large spikes that can occur in winter, he said.

Most utilities offer plans that allow customers who have 12 months of billing history to pay the same amount each month. The calculation is usually made by dividing the total of the prior 12 months' charges into 12 equal billing payments, including an adjustment for rate increases. Such plans can aid families in better managing their monthly expenses, Van Os explained.

"It spreads the cost over time, and you're not paying really exorbitant amounts during the peak periods," he said. "It provides for better planning purposes."

Van Os recommended putting aside money for unexpected expenses, if possible. Paying for something like a furnace repair can be costly, and having some funds set aside for such things can prevent increasing debt.

"If you anticipate something like routine maintenance in your budget … you make sure that you anticipate before you have to react," he said.

For more information, visit the CDC website on preparing for winter weather.

Email: jlee@desnews.com

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