Local experts provide winter tips

Alisa Boswell

Winter weather is approaching the Clovis and Portales areas, which means it’s the time of year when electric bills jump higher, lawns hibernate and driving to work can turn into to slipping and sliding.

According to Xcel Energy, there are various small tasks a person can perform to keep energy bills lower during the winter months. A few of these tasks include the following:

• Seal leaky ducts with mastic, metal-backed tape or aerosol sealant.

• Keep your furnace or heat pump filter clean

• Open inside doors to improve air circulation

• Use ventilation fans (such as in the bathroom or kitchen) only as needed

Wes Reeves, a spokesperson for Xcel, said home insulation is one of the most important factors for conserving energy and maintaining heat within the home during winter.

“There are a lot of inexpensive things you can do to insulate your home,” said Reeves. “It can be as simple as going to your local hardware store and getting materials.”

Reeves said door sweeps, weather stripping and window shrink wrap are some of the inexpensive materials readily available to effectively insulate homes.

For maintaining yards and plant life during the winter months, Charles Guthals of Guthals Nursery in Clovis and Curt Jaynes of Gardensource Nursery in Portales said one of the most important factors to remember during the winter is your yard still needs moisture, because although the plants appear dead, their roots are still active.

“Freezing pulls moisture from plants,” said Guthals. “But they cannot reach out and grab a bottle of lotion like we do.”

Both Guthals and Jaynes said yards still need to be watered during dry winter weather but much less frequently than in summer. Guthals said a lawn that is watered three times a week in the summer can be watered only once a week during the dry winter months.

Jayne said another important part of preparing yards and plants for the following summer is being sure to frequently clean out dead plants and excess grass during the winter and spraying lawns with winterizers, pre-emergents and soil activators.

Guthals suggested spraying dormant oil to kill winter bugs and lime sulfur to kill fungus during the winter.

More winter rules to remember are driving safety tips. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the following are important to remember in winter weather:

• Before leaving home, find out about the driving conditions. Safe drivers know the weather, and their limits. If the weather is bad remember, ice and snow, take it slow, or just don’t go.

• Remove any snow on your vehicle’s windows, lights, brake lights and signals. Make sure you can see and be seen.

• Check your vehicle’s tires, wiper blades, fluids, lights, belts and hoses. A breakdown is bad on a good day and dangerous on a bad-weather day.

• Leave plenty of time to reach your destination safely. It’s not worth putting yourself and others in a dangerous situation just to be on time.

For more useful household tips, visit the Xcel Energy website at www.xcelenergy.com.

For more these safety tips on winter driving, visit www.dot.gov or www.safety.blr.com.

For additional driving safety material and driving educational programs, visit www.safernm.org.