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Winterize Your Home with Savings in Mind

Home heating costs are expected to rise this winter — the Better Business Bureau offers tips for improving your home's energy efficiency when preparing for colder weather.

With a tough economy looming over this winter, many people are looking for ways to save money through energy efficiency.

The Better Business Bureau is offering a checklist for homeowners to safely prepare their homes for the cold winter months, and perhaps save a few dollars in the process.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, home heating costs this winter are expected to rise by 10.2 percent for homeowners who rely on heating oil. Homeowners can fend off some of the rising energy costs by winterizing their home before the harshest weather takes hold.

With the unpredictability of Mother Nature, now is the time to prepare for the winter months ahead.

The following is a BBB home winterizing checklist for consumers to consult when preparing for the cold months ahead.

  • Furnace — Furnaces older than 15 years might be due for a replacement. For newer furnaces, the Better Business Bureau recommends making sure the furnace filter is clean, the thermostat is working properly and the pilot light is functioning. Homeowners can also hire an inspector to do the job and make sure the furnace is in safe working order.
  • Chimney — Before lighting up the fireplace, homeowners should have the chimney inspected for animals, debris and leaves that may have fallen in. The Better Business Bureau also recommends installing a screen over the chimney opening.
  • Gutters and ridge vents — Gutters should be 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 in order to allow the house to "breath" correctly. Otherwise, air will stagnate and create an unhealthy environment.
  • Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors — The Better Business Bureau recommends testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and installing fresh batteries. Homeowners should consider replacing smoke alarms older than 10 years.
  • Caulking and weather stripping — To prevent leaks, homeowners should inspect the caulking around windows and doors and check for cracking and peeling. In addition, the Better Business Bureau recommends ensuring that doors and windows shut tightly and no cold air is coming in due to worn weather stripping.
  • Seasonal equipment — Homeowners won’t need their spring and summer equipment for a few months, so the Better Business Bureau recommends draining water from garden hoses and air conditioner pipes, and the gasoline from the lawnmower and other garden tools. It’s also time to pull out the snow shovels and plows and ensure they are in good repair.
  • 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, nonperishable food and a battery-powered radio. The Better Business Bureau recommends creating the same emergency kit for the car as well, including a couple blankets.

Prepare for winter weather with .

What do you do to prepare your home for the winter months? Tell us in comments.

Related Topics: winterizing a home

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