How to prepare for cold weather months

How to prepare for cold weather months

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Hopefully you enjoyed the warmth on Wednesday, because the thermometer is about to take a nose dive.

"It was so beautiful that we just wanted to take advantage of it before the weather turns and it gets cold," Nancy McKensy told FOX 9 News while picking pumpkins with her children at Sever's Pumpkin Patch.

Boaters were bustling at Rockvam Boat Yards on Lake Minnetonka on Wednesday, trying to take in the last bit of summer sun, but John Bjorklund told FOX 9 News he's been winterizing boats as quickly as people can pull them out of the water.

The rest of the week's forecast is showing high temperatures in the low 50s and upper 40s, with overnight lows in the 30s.

The forecast will have some renters reaching for extra blankets if the building owners haven't turned on the heat for the season. For homeowners and renters who struggle to afford their heating bills, we're still a few weeks away from the cold weather rule taking effect.

The Minnesota cold weather rule protects residential customers having difficulty paying their gas bill from having service disconnected from Oct. 15 through April 15, but your heat can be turned off unless you contact your utility company to apply for protection.

If you are not on a payment plan with your utility and you have past-due bills, your service could be shut off prior to Oct. 15.

Before the utility may turn off your service during the winter months (Oct. 15 through April 15), the company must send you the following information:

  • A disconnection notice telling you the date you may be disconnected
  • Details on payment plans and how to avoid disconnection
  • How to appeal if you and the utility can't agree on a payment plan
  • A list of energy assistance and weatherization providers
  • No-cost and low-cost methods of conserving energy
  • A Third Party Notice Form

If your household income is at or below 50 percent of the state median income, you are not required to pay more than ten percent of your household monthly income. You can check a table with those guidelines online.

Sprinkler systems will also need to be blown out to protect the pipes before the ground freezes permanently. Brian Larson owns Northway Irrigation, and he says Halloween should be the deadline for winterizing sprinkler systems.

"Very similar to a can of pop in the freezer, it gets a little frozen and it's okay. You put it in for a long period of time and the can will explode," he explained.

With the temperatures dropping this week, underground equipment should still be safe, but covering outdoor pipes with a blanket will help protect the plastic pieces that could be damaged.

The University of Minnesota also released new guidelines about fertilizing lawns ahead of the cold snap. Turf grass educator Sam Bauer says new research shows that nitrogen fertilizer should not be applied after the last time a lawn is watered in early November. Instead, he urges homeowners to wrap up their fertilizing by Oct. 15.

"When we get further into the late fall, the capacity for the grass to take up that nitrogen as the temperatures cool down is greatly reduced," he said. "Based on the weather coming this weekend, if your grass slows down because of the cold temperatures, it will not have the ability to take up the nutrients as it would have."

Bauer recommends waiting until the weather arms back up to fertilize if you haven't yet, but if that doesn't happen, watering will help a lawn recover in the spring.

"Water, water, water," he urged.

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