Winterize your home to keep heating costs down

BBB offers cold weather home preparation tips

WACO—A s colder weather moves into Texas, many local homeowners are turning on their home-heating systems for the first time in many months. According to the Energy Information Administration, home-heating costs this winter are expected to rise by 3 percent compared to last year.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds homeowners that protecting your home before the harshest weather takes hold can save money in the long term.

BBB offers the following checklist for consumers to consult when preparing for the cold months ahead:

Furnace— Have your unit inspected to make sure it is in safe, working order. Additionally, check to see that the furnace filter is clean, the thermostat is accurate and the pilot light is functioning.

Heating ducts— According to the Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60 percent of its heated air before that air reaches the vents. This occurs if ductwork is not well-connected, improperly insulated or if air travels through unheated spaces.

Fireplace— Using your fireplace can keep you from running the heater as often, but make sure the flue is closed when it is not in use. This will keep cold drafts out of your home. If you notice a leak, have your chimney inspected or purchase a screen to cover your fireplace.

Gutt ers and o pipes— If freezing temperatures are forecasted, wrap outside pipes and clear your gutters to prevent possible cracking. Any clogs or excess water will expand as they freeze.

Caulking and weather stripping— According to the EarthWorks Group, the average home has air leaks that amount to nine square feet. Inspect the caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors for cracking and peeling. If you can feel air coming in, it also means heat is getting out.

BBB reminds consumers that most of these steps can be done inexpensively and can help prevent spending hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of dollars in repairs.

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2010-12-09 digital edition

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