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A checklist for winterizing your home

January 19, 2011

From press release

Year after year, people look for ways to save money on heating their homes. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Chicago and northern Illinois offers a checklist for homeowners to safely prepare their homes during the winter months and perhaps save a few dollars in the process.

According to the Energy Information Administration, home heating costs this winter are expected to rise by 4 percent for homes relying on natural gas and 8 percent for homes heated by propane or electricity. Luckily, homeowners can fend off some of the rising energy costs by winterizing their home.

“High heating costs are a problem each winter for cash-strapped consumers making it especially important to winterize their homes,” said Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the BBB serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “It makes good economic sense because a small up-front investment can pay dividends for months by increasing the energy efficiency of a house and reducing overall heating costs.”

Following is a home winterizing checklist:

→ Caulking and weather stripping—To prevent air leaks, homeowners should inspect the caulking around windows and doors and check for cracking and peeling. In addition, ensure that doors and windows shut tightly and no cold air is coming in due to worn down weather stripping.

Ceiling fans—By reversing the direction of your ceiling fan so the blades turn clockwise, you push warm air down and force it around the room.

Furnace—Furnaces older than 15 years might be due for a replacement. For newer furnaces, make sure the filter is clean and the thermostat is working properly.

Heating ducts—Ducts should be cleaned once every two years. Homeowners should also consider adding insulation to any exposed ductwork to prevent losing heated air.

Emergency kit—When a winter storm strikes, an emergency kit should have all essential materials in one handy place. An emergency kit should include flashlights, candles and matches, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a battery-powered radio. Create the same emergency kit for the car as well, including a couple blankets.

Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors—Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and installing fresh batteries. Homeowners should consider replacing smoke alarms older than 10 years.

Gutters and ridge vents—Gutters should have been cleaned to prevent any clogs that would cause rainwater to back up and freeze, making the gutters expand and crack. The ridge vents need to be cleaned as well to help prevent stagnant air.

Windows—Window screens should be taken down and replaced with storm windows; they provide an extra layer of protection and keep the house warmer. Investing in a window insulator kit is an inexpensive option to keep out drafts as well.

For more advice you can trust and free referrals on home maintenance and saving money this winter, visit BBB online at bbb.org.

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