BE WISE AND WINTERIZE!
by Susan Hargens, Member Services Director
It won't be long before Ol' Man Winter will be blowing cold winds our way. South Dakota can be a challenge during the winter with its severe cold, heavy snowfall, and strong winds. Prepare before cold weather sets in to protect your home from the damages associated with extremely cold temperatures.
A pipe freezing and breaking can be very costly and messy. Know where your shut-off valve is located so you can turn off the water in the event of an emergency.
Disconnect and drain all garden hoses from all outside faucets. Look inside your meter pit to ensure that the insulating pillow is in place. Replace the iron lid and cover the pit with straw or some other form of insulation. Mark the pit by flagging it to avoid snowplow damage.
Some areas in your home can be drafty and need to be sealed with caulk or similar material, especially if pipes are located there. Frozen pipes can cause much water damage to property, along with creating a hefty water bill. Good places to investigate for drafts are around electrical wiring, dryer vents, pipes, etc.
When pipes are in a cold area, use heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables to protect them from freezing. Make sure the product being used has been approved by an independent testing organization such as Underwriter's Laboratories, Inc. Always use any product for its intended use only.
Many other products are available for winterizing your home. A visit to your local extension office or the local hardware store can provide ideas for saving on heating costs and protecting homes from cold-weather damage.
Preparing ahead of time gives us more time to enjoy favorite wintertime activities, whether it's participating in winter sports or sitting by the fire drinking hot chocolate. It's always wise to winterize. Enjoy your winter!
Getting in the Conservation Habit
by Susan Hargens, Member Services Director
Considering last year's drought conditions and the possibility of being faced with another dry year, now is the time to set in motion a plan of action for conserving water.
Drier conditions cause an increased usage of water, resulting in a higher demand on water systems around the country. We are currently not adversely affected since we're not operating at full capacity. But down the road, when all customers are on-line, we could experience problems if more water is used than contracted for.
So now is the time to begin developing good habits that promote conservation of our water supply. These are a few suggestions to start out with:
Water lawns early in the morning. If you water in the evening, you cut down on evaporation, but increase the chances of molds, which like cool, damp conditions. Ideal watering times occur between 5 and 7 a.m. The water has time to sink in before sunrise. Watering after the sun is overhead can cause scalding of plant leaves, with the water evaporating long before it reaches optimum soil depth.
A wonderful way to cut down on the number of times you need to water is through mulching gardens and flowerbeds. A number of good mulching mediums exist, like black plastic, grass cuttings, wood chips, etc. Mulching holds in the moisture and reduces evaporation. It is a very useful tool for gardeners.
When planning what to plant in your yard, select plants indigenous to your area. Find out this information through your local extension agent or at your local greenhouse. By planting plant species common to a particular location, you ensure that they're hardy enough to withstand South Dakota drought conditions.
Instead of using the hose to clean off concrete or asphalt driveways, use a broom and sweep off the dirt and rocks. Recycle water by digging a trench beside the driveway and filling it with gravel. Water can then run into it and soak into the surrounding soil.
These are just a few examples of ways you can conserve water. You can check out many other sources for great water conservation ideas on the Internet or at your local extension agent.
Some Great Water Conservation Sites:
Water Saver Home -
www.h2ouse.org (Highly Recommend)
Ecological Landscaping Assoc. -
Wild Ones Natural Landscapers -
US Green Building Council -
Nat. Water Efficiency Clearinghouse, "WaterWiser" -
National Drought Mitigation Center -