Being winter ready in Arizona ranges from protecting your plants to watching for frozen pipes. Photo By: Alan Levine via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

What it Means to Be Winter-Ready in Arizona

We’re used to extreme temperatures. Thermometers are known to reach 119 degrees in the summer months, after all. But Arizonans sometimes forget they can also drop to freezing or below during the winter.

December is Arizona’s coldest month, according to The Weather Channel. And this month’s lows so far have dipped as low as a chilly 36 degrees, National Weather Service data shows.

Low temperatures like these can have a negative impact on your home—your pipes, heating systems and even your landscaping. So, when temperatures dip, it’s important that you’ve taken some measures to prepare. It’s not too late. Here are some basic winterizing tasks you can still do to ensure your house will remain comfortable, cozy and warm this season.

Insulate your pipes: Don’t get caught with frozen pipes, which can burst and result in extensive damage to your home. A trip to a local hardware store for some preventive supplies can save you thousands of dollars in repairs. Officials at the Public Works Department for the City of Scottsdale, offer several pipe-saving pointers:

  • Check the perimeter of your house for exposed pipes. You can use what you have on hand and insulate them with towels or blankets, or purchase foam sleeves, heat tape or other supplies designed for the exact task.
  • Keep garage doors closed, to prevent a temperature dip, if pipes are located inside.
  • Run a slow trickle of water through pipes when temperatures are especially low; this may keep them from freezing.
  • Run your pool pump during nighttime hours to prevent ice from forming; water that’s stagnant can freeze.

If you suspect that your pipes are frozen or have burst, turn off your main water valve and then call the water department for help.

Check your heating systems: One of the easiest ways to keep your home warm this winter is to make sure your heating and cooling system is working properly. Just as you check to make sure your smoke detectors have working batteries, you should bring in a pro to check your HVAC system. Be sure to change the filters regularly, too. Experts at Energy Star advise that you check filters once a month and change them every three months at a minimum. This will help keep your system running smoothly and help ensure that the air circulating through your home is free of dust and debris. Energy Star also recommends using a programmable thermostat to turn down the heat when you’re at work or sleeping—thus saving energy. Try setting the thermostat just below 70 degrees to keep your home comfortable during waking and evening hours. But when you’re at work and asleep, Energy Star recommends reducing the thermostat temp by at least 8 degrees.

Protect your plants: Arizonans pride themselves on their ability to maintain a garden during the winter, and to keep lawns alive with citrus trees, palms and shrubs. Plants certainly can remain fresh and alive throughout the colder months with a bit of preparation and an eye on the forecast. The Desert Botanical Garden says you can prevent freeze damage to plants with a few basic steps.

Shelter: If you’re aware that the night will be a chilly one, bring potted plants indoors or to a porch with an overhead canopy. If they cannot be moved, cover them with a frost blanket or other fabric material. Styrofoam cups can also be used on cactus arms, and sheets draped over a frame or an item like a chair can be positioned over garden beds for protection. Avoid using plastic bags because the plant could freeze where the bag comes in contact with it.

Pruning: If your plants suffer frost damage, wait for temperatures to warm up before pruning them. Many damaged plants can still be saved by pruning them down to the healthiest bits. The Desert Botanical Garden offers a plant hotline to help answer your questions. They can be reached by calling (480) 481-8120 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or by email at These tips and preventive methods take just a few minutes to do and are will help keep your home and belongings winter-proof all season long.

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