In Ohio, nobody ever really knows what the weather is going to do from day-to-day, or even sometimes hour-to-hour. So it is always a good idea to be prepared for anything. By the time October comes around, most people begin to understand that summer is officially over and that it is time to start preparing for dropping temperatures. But we might not always think about winter-proofing our homes. After all, that kind of weather doesnt usually arrive until December or January. It is never too early to think about ways to keep your home warm this winter.

Colder temperatures do not just affect the way we dress or how we drive. It can also make a direct impact on our pocketbooks. A home that is not properly equipped for winter can be like a car that leaks gasoline. It can require spending a lot of money without getting much in return. That is why I think October is the perfect time to evaluate whether our homes are ready for what lies ahead. You dont want to wait until the first snowfall to realize that your windows and doors are drafty.

Every home is different, so the techniques for keeping them warm will vary. But one smart first step is to check that your heating system is working properly, whether it be a furnace, fireplace or something else. It is also a good idea to check all places where air can potentially enter your home, like doors and windows. Simply sealing off small cracks with plastic wrap can keep cold out of your house, which in turn keeps money in your pocket.

Besides all of these easy steps to keep your house warm, you can also apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). HEAP is a federally funded program operated by the Department of Development. It is designed to help low-income Ohioans deal with heating costs. Too see if you qualify, additional information about the program, or to apply, look up the website: You can also call the toll-free number: (800) 262-0880.

Keeping your home warm this winter is an important responsibility for your health and the health of your children. Although it is only October, it is never too early to start thinking about staying warm in the months ahead.

Rep. Landis may be reached by calling 614-466-8035; emailing; or writing to State Rep. Al Landis, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215.