Winter is Coming

winter-blog-small-1000x659Ol’ Man Winter is lurking around the corner. Here are some easy steps you can take to keep your home as toasty warm as possible without breaking the bank.




  1. Replace any old or single pane windows. Windows are one of the major ways heat leaks out of your house.
  2. Seal off drafty windows and patio doors with clear plastic.
  3. If you have doors to the outside that leak air, try sealing a few off using plastic or caulk putty.
  4. How old is your furnace?  If over 10 years old, there’s a chance it’s costing you a lot of money because it wastes a lot of fuel. Consider upgrading to a newer one.
  5. Insulate the hot water lines around your hot water heater and turn down the temperature of the water heater to the “warm” setting (120 degrees F). If leaving your home for extended periods, turn it to the “vacation” setting.
  6. Consider “blanketing” your water heater with faced fiberglass insulation. (Do not do this if you have a gas-powered water heater)
  7. Wrap any hot water pipes that run through unheated areas of the house. Also, you can insulate cold water pipes to help prevent them from freezing during the winter.
  8. Replace your furnace filter at the start of the furnace season and then about every 3 months.
  9. Make sure cold air returns aren’t blocked.  Your furnace needs these to operate efficiently.
  10. Try replacing the weather stripping around the doors in your home.
  11. Use a programmable thermostat to reduce heating costs when no one is at home.
  12. Uncover all south-facing windows to let all possible sunlight in your home.
  13. Keep all vents and baseboard heaters clean.
  14. If you have a fireplace, close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
  15. If the damper is old or doesn’t close well, try putting some insulation in it to seal it off. Just remember to take it out before using it!
  16. If you like using a fireplace, consider getting an insert that will direct the heat into your house instead of just sending it up the chimney.
  17. Consider replacing all of your lightbulbs with energy-saving CFL bulbs.
  18. Install a timer on your water heater so it isn’t heating a whole tank of water when you don’t need it.
  19. Install foam insulators behind the face plates of light switches and electrical outlets.
  20. Check the insulation in the walls of your home. It might need some work in order to keep heat in efficiently.
  21. Reverse the direction of ceiling fans to push hot air downward and delay it from escaping the house.
  22. Consider hanging thermal curtains to help prevent drafts.
  23. Install a dryer vent seal to prevent cold air from traveling back into your home.
  24. There are attachments to vent your dryer inside your home so you don’t waste the heat and humidity. (Don’t try this if you have a gas-powered dryer).
  25. Check windows for leaks. Windows with wooden frames often warp and become inefficient.
  26. Caulk both sides of the trim around your windows.  This is an area where a lot of air can get in.
  27. Try not to use space heaters to heat large areas of your house. If you spend most of your time in one room in a large house, consider setting your thermostat low and using a small heater to heat where you are going to be.
  28. Keep all closet doors closed when possible. There’s no need to heat space that isn’t in use as long as it doesn’t contain water pipes.
  29. Make sure that your garage isn’t too drafty.
  30. Try to use the clothes dryer for consecutive loads of laundry. This conserves the energy that would be needed to heat up the dryer several times.
  31. Replace the caulking around any bathtubs or showers.
  32. If your home has folding attic stairs, consider insulating the door with a cover of some sort.
  33. If your home has a sliding glass door, check the seal on the bottom to make sure it isn’t letting in cold air.
  34. If your water heater needs to be upgraded, consider installing a tankless water heater.
  35. Use the oven for baking during colder hours of the day to help heat your home.
  36. Install storm doors to help keep out drafts.
  37. Use an energy monitor to tell you what appliances are using the most energy. This might help pinpoint areas where you can cut back on energy usage.
  38. Make sure that your duct system is working properly.
  39. Look into installing a geothermal heating system. While it is a bit expensive, initially, the energy savings provide a long-term cost benefit.
  40. Make sure that there aren’t any drafts coming in under doors. If there are, consider using a rubber strip to seal them off.
  41. Replace worn or missing shingles.
  42. Seal any cracks in the foundation of your house.
  43. Install a programmable Energy Star thermostat that will lower the temperature at night and when no one is at home.
  44. Close off rooms that aren’t used and shut the vents.
  45. Clean your shower head.  Tying a bag filled with white vinegar around the shower head overnight will greatly increase your water pressure and its efficiency.
  46. Change out the batteries in CO and smoke detectors!  Wintertime means increased risk from the dangers of fire or carbon monoxide due to increased use of heaters, fireplaces and candles.
  47. Wash your windows. By some estimates, dirty window glass cuts daylight by 20%. That’s a lot less light coming in at a time of year when you really need it to help chase away winter blues.

Our local PUD has more great energy saving tips and a wonderful rebate program on everything from light bulbs to geothermal heat systems.  You can even schedule a free energy survey of your home to find out exactly where your home may be working against your pocketbook.  Find out more here.

Snow Biking Gaining Traction at Royal Gorge

It’s a sunny winter day; temps are in the mid 20’s and it is a perfect day to be outside.  You head for freshly groomed trails not with your skis but with your bike!  That’s right, your bike. In recent years snow biking has taken winter by storm.  Now the cyclists, who previously spent the winter months on gym bikes or on indoor trainers, finally have another option for exercise and fun.

While untold thousands of people in the U.S. pedal year-round to work or school, it’s now captured the attention of the thrill seekers as well as the commuters.  New cycling equipment, better apparel and a growing awareness of the feasibility of wintertime riding has caused a jump in participation. Snow biking has become a mainstream offering at many winter resorts across the country for a number of reasons.   First, bikes have come a long way.  Your standard 26” wheeled mountain bike will work just fine on the snow.  Today’s wider tires and the ability to run lower air pressure with tubeless tires so that more tire surface will be in contact with the road/trail makes the snow a great format for fun.

Aside from the bike technology changing, there has also been a change in our trails.  More users are on the trails year-round now, for hiking, trail running and snow shoeing.  Some people might consider this a bad thing but for the snow biker it’s great.  More use of the trails creates more compaction. When you combine this compaction with a bit of sun and some nice temps (in the 20’s) you get conditions that create great snow biking.

Royal Gorge is one of the few resorts in the Tahoe Basin currently offering snow bike rentals.  They have a complete fleet of fat tire bikes and groomed winter trails to make your next ride your best one! Check out their website page here.

Resorts and Winter Activities



Snow Report

Alpine Skiing & Snow Boarding

Alpine Meadows


Diamond Peak

Donner Ski Ranch



Northstar at Tahoe

Soda Springs

Squaw Valley

Sugar Bowl

Tahoe Donner

Nordic Cross Country

Northstar Cross Country / Telemark Center

Royal Gorge

Tahoe City

Tahoe Donner



Ice Skating

Northstar at Tahoe

Olympic Valley


Donner Summit

Northstar at Tahoe

Tubing & Sledding

Donner Summit, Truckee & Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Donner

OHV Snow Parks

OHV Snow Parks