The blast of cold air that swept through the state early this autumn was a taste of things to come. Though the holidays are forefront in families’ minds, a cold weather checklist can help prevent having to ring in the New Year with high heating bills.
Get a furnace checkup and cleaning: A professional can clean your furnace’s air filters and ensure the thermostat is working properly. A typical home furnace reaches the end of its useful life after fifteen years and may need replacing.
Get a chimney checkup: Before lighting the first fire of the season, it is always a good idea to bring in a professional to inspect your chimney for animals, nests, leaves and other debris, as well as make any necessary repairs.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Of all the items on a winterization checklist, this is one of the most important from a safety standpoint and least expensive. Furnaces are the primary source of fires and noxious fumes. Homeowners should routinely test these devices to make sure they work and install fresh batteries during the switch back and forth to Daylight Savings Time. Detector units should be replaced every ten years.
Clean heating ducts: Clogged ducts can end up heating the basement and leaving the rest of the home out in the cold. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates a centrally-heated home can lose as much as 60 percent of warmed air before reaching vents if duct work is not cleaned, well-connected and insulated, or travels through unheated spaces. Insulation should be added to duct work and ducts cleaned every two years.
Plug those holes: The average American home may have many small air leaks. Though they may not be large, they have a cumulative effect on home heating. Professionals estimate those leaks can lose as much heat as a hole in the outside wall several square feet in diameter. Make sure windows close tightly, check for leaks around them, use caulking to plug them, and inspect all weather stripping for cracks and peeling.
In addition, consider applying insulating film to drafty windows, and install a tight-fitting fireplace door to stop a daylong loss of heat through the chimney.
Final preparations: It is better to find out now whether there is a problem with the snow blower than just after a major blizzard. Prepare your snow clearing equipment such as shovels, salt or other ice-melting products. Finally, don’t forget to drain outside faucets to prevent the pipes from freezing.
While snowstorms may be fun for children, they also can cause serious disruptions. Be prepared for blizzards, blackouts and other winter storm-related problems by keeping important supplies in one place. An emergency kit should contain bottled water, a first aid kit, battery-operated radio, fresh batteries, candles, matches and non-perishable food. BBB recommends assembling a similar kit for the car, complete with blankets, extra gloves, a shovel and salt.
More information on winterizing and other helpful homeowner tips are available at http://ct.bbb.org/
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