Portlanders flock to stores to prep for cold weather

PORTLAND, Ore. - The looming threat of cold weather sent Portlanders to local stores on Sunday to prepare for the worst.

"My wife sent me," said Stephen Heitner, whom we met at the Ace Hardware in the Pearl District. "She sent me out to get some stuff to weatherize the house and make it nice cozy and warm for the winter."

Stephen was far from alone.

Ray Murray, manager at Ace Hardware, said Sunday was a big day for stocking up on weather stripping, insulation and foam covers for pipes.

"It's been really busy," Murray said. "I haven't stopped helping people since I got here all day today."

The Cost of Cold

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts more than 90 percent of U.S. homes will see higher bills this winter than they saw last winter.

Some people we've spoken to say they see their heating bills double, triple or sometimes quadruple during the winter months.

John Horseman, manager at the Westmoreland True Value told us taking even basic steps to winterize your home can at least dent heating bills in the Portland area.

"You probably could save 10-15 dollars if you really took time to do your windows, do your doors, check for drafts," Horseman said.

Alternatives to Shopping

There are ways to protect your home against the cold without reaching into your wallet.

Towels, spare clothing, or just fabric stuffed with un-popped popcorn can be pressed against a door crack to keep out cold air.

Many ceiling fans have a switch on them reversing the direction of the blades, creating an updraft that will force warm air near the ceiling (remember, heat rises) out toward the walls, warming a room.

Hanging thick curtains or quilts over windows can help keep cold air at bay. Likewise, pushing furniture like book cases against the outside walls of a home can have an insulating effect against the cold.