Get ready for a blast of cold air

It's been a mild winter in South Carolina so far. That means a lot of people aren't as ready as they could be for the wave of cold air that will hit our area this week.

To prepare yourself for the cold blast, dress for the weather by wearing several layers of clothing.

For your home, remember the three "P's": pipes, pets and plants.

If you have an outside dog or cat, bring them in, along with their food and water dishes and remember to bring in your potted plants.

The number one cause of frozen water pipes on the Grand Strand is a garden hose left connected to an outdoor faucet.

The water inside the hose freezes and expands, cracking the faucet or pipes.

"Disconnect (the hose) from (the faucet), let the water drip out, and that will prevent the hose and the faucet from breaking," says Rob Fogarty, owner of Fogarty & Fogarty Plumbing of Surfside Beach .

Water expands by about nine percent in volume when it freezes. That's what causes those pipes to burst.

Also, if you have any exposed pipes outside, Fogarty says you should place foam insulation around them, and turn on the faucets in your kitchen and bathroom slightly.

"You would just let the water just trickle a little bit during the freezing nights. Moving water will not freeze."

Now would be a good time to make sure your home's heating unit is working efficiently. The best thing you can for that is to install a new air filter.

"It's going to allow your system to run within the means that it's supposed to, in order to operate correctly. Any kind of restricted air flow is gonna cause extra strain, both on the blower motor inside and also the compressor outside," says Michael Smith, owner of After Hours Heating and Cooling of Myrtle Beach .

Smith says you should find a temperature that's comfortable to you and keep it there. Adjusting your thermostat too often will have a serious impact on your utility bill.

Now's also a good time to make sure your whole system is clean, he says.

"Make sure that everything is running properly, good air flow, everything is clean outside and it's always going to effect your utility bill in the end."