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What You Need to Know About Winterization

The days are getting shorter, the nights colder, and before we know it winter will be here. With winter comes a range of issues and questions related to heating and utilities. In this article, I’m going to seek to answer some of those questions, as well as mention some resources available to help with heating and winterization.

Grand Marais: The City of Grand Marais states that there are no winterization guidelines residents are required to follow. The Grand Marais Public Library can “find resources for patrons on winterization of deer, chickens, turkeys, gardens, man-made ponds, boats, RVs, etc, through the state’s inter-library loan system MN-Link.” Memoirs and stories about wintering in Northern Minnesota and Ontario are also available through the library. Learn more about resources at the Grand Marais Public Library at’grandmaraislibrary.org.

Silver Bay:  According to the City of Silver Bay, “City Water/Sewer/Garbage payments still remain due. Families can contact outside organizations, such as Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA), to assist with delinquent utility payments or other weatherization needs.” Read more about AEOA further on in this article.

Silver Bay residents should have recently received a Cold Weather Notification from the City of Silver Bay. This notification first addresses the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule. It also provides information for homes that use hot water heat as their heat source. For assistance, homes using hot water heat should contact the Silver Bay Public Utilities Commission at 218- 226-4408 to ask for an application.

Families that use another source for heat should contact outside organizations, such as AEOA . More information on AEOA Energy Assistance can be found at www.aeoa.org/energyassistance-program. To apply for energy assistance from AEOA, call 218-735-6839.

Minnesota Power is coming to the Silver Bay Public Library on Wednesday, October 12th from 6-7pm to talk about energy efficiency in homes and programs people can use to update their homes. On Monday, November 14th from 6-7pm Matt Pollmann, the Lake County Emergency Risk Manager, will be at the library talking about winter preparedness. This event coincides with Winter Weather Awareness Week which is November 14-18, 2022. Contact the Silver Bay Public Library at 218-226-4331 or email them at silverbaypubliclibrary@gmail.com

Two Harbors: During the winter months, Two Harbors follows the Cold Weather Rule. Two Harbors offers an energy audit of homes for $25. Interested persons should contact Two Harbors Electrical Superintendent Blake Prince at bprince@twoharborsmn.gov.

For those looking to make sure their vehicles are winter-ready, the Two Harbors Public Library has a “fantastic expert online resource. Chilton Library provides free 24/7 online access to repair, maintenance, and service information on the most popular cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs on the road today, as well as many new vehicles.” To access Chilton Library, all one needs is their library card number for immediate access. If you don’t have a library card, you can obtain one for free at any local library.

The Two Harbors Public Library also has books on homesteading and home repair – topics of What You Need to Know About Winterization by Haley Searls interest as people prepare for winter. Homesteading and home repair books are found in the nonfiction section under the 640s and 690s, and the librarians are happy to provide recommended titles on those topics, as well as titles on winterization and cozy books to read during the cold months.

The Two Harbors Public Library can be contacted at 218-834-3148 or at thpl@alslib.info.

What is Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule?:

According to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, “Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule (CWR) is a state law that protects residential utility customers from having electric or natural gas service shut off between October 1 and April 30. To protect your service from disconnection you must make and keep a payment plan that you and your utility agree on. The utility must offer a payment plan that is reasonable for your household’s financial circumstances. You can set up a CWR payment plan any time during the CWR season.

“You are eligible for CWR protection even if you rent – the electricity or gas must be the primary heat source and the utility account must be in your name. You and your utility must agree to a payment plan that is reasonable for your household. All natural gas and electric utilities must offer CWR protection. CWR does not apply to delivered fuels; oil and propane or wood. If you use delivered fuels, and your furnace is run by electricity, you should apply for CWR protection with your electric company.”

What about AEOA?:

AEOA offers weatherization services to income-eligible homeowners in Lake, Cook, and St. Louis Counties. An energy auditor evaluates clients’ homes, and work crews take the auditor’s report and make improvements to the home to reduce heating costs.

Services are free to qualifying low-income households and include client education, energy audits to evaluate energy use, exterior wall and attic insulation, and air sealing. AEOA also provides testing, repair, and/or replacement of home heating systems to ensure efficiency and safety. To learn more about AEOA and find out if you qualify for their weatherization services, visit www.aeoa.org/weatherization.

Winter Safety in the Home: The Minnesota Department of Public Safety offers 13 tips for winter safety in the home:

1) Have your heating system checked by a professional. If you heat with wood, clean your fireplace or stove and have your flue and chimney checked for cracks or creosote buildup.

2) Make sure your home is properly insulated.

3) Caulk doors and windows.

4) Install double-pane or storm windows, or cover windows and sliding doors with plastic sheeting from the inside.

5) Drain and clear sprinkler systems and outside pipes and hoses. Shut off valves to outside lines.

6) If exposed water pipes are in use outside, bury or insulate them.

7) Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame or torch.

8) Know how to shut off your water valves and keep a wrench near the valves.

9) Inspect your water heater.

10) Clean rain gutters.

11) Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

12) Be aware of potential flooding when snow and ice melt.

13) Arrange and connect electric lights and holiday decorations before the first snow arrives.

View all these steps at thttps://dps.mn.gov/ divisions/hsem/weather-awarenesspreparedness/Documents/winter-safetychecklist-home-prep.pdf.

How can I make sure my heating system is winter-ready?: Do-Right Plumbing and Heating is a locally owned and operated heating, plumbing, and cooling business. Owner and operator Jason Hanson highly recommends that people get their furnaces serviced before it gets too cold. He also notes that many people forget to check their carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are functioning properly, a task often as simple as changing the batteries. Do-Right services mainly residential heating and cooling systems in Two Harbors, Silver Bay, and Grand Marais. Free estimates are available for heating systems and interested persons can call or text Do-Right at 218-830-8985. As you prepare for winter this year, don’t forget to take time to enjoy this short and beautiful season we call fall.

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