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Preparing for Winter: Staying Safe and Warm at Home

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When winter rolls in, you'll probably find yourself looking for more heat than your furnace can provide. You'll certainly have a great many heating alternatives to choose from, each with its own benefits, shortcomings and safety hazards. Reading and heeding safety information is essential.

preparing for winter

But to make supplemental heating even safer, use it less. How do you do that? Simple: Keep your home's heat from escaping.

Preparing for Winter

What follows are nine things you can do in different areas of the house to keep you and your family safe while blocking winter's attempts to suck the warmth from your home.

preparing for winter Main Living Spaces

Clean the chimney. Creosote is a flammable material that can build up in your chimney. Before you start burning logs this winter, have your chimney cleaned.

Close the flue. When you aren't using your fireplace, make sure you close the flue and shut fireplace doors (if you have them). Warm air rises, and much of the warm air in the room will rise up and out the chimney if you don't stop it.

Lay some rugs. Covering hardwood, laminate, tile, and linoleum floors with throw rugs can keep Jack Frost from nipping at little bare toesies.

Reverse your ceiling fans. Set your ceiling fans to run in reverse (there should be an easy-to-find switch for that purpose) so that they blow the warmer air near the ceiling down into the living space.

Bedrooms

Lower the curtain on cold windows. Install insulating curtains (also called thermal curtains) over windows and keep them closed.

Set a space heater safety perimeter. If you use a space heater to warm a bedroom—or any room—maintain a three-foot "child-free zone" around it.

Turn off the electric blanket. Electric blankets are great for keeping us toasty through the night, but they should be shut off when they aren't being used.

Bathrooms

Turn off the vent fan. Don't leave a bathroom vent fan turned on any longer than needed after a shower. That fan will continue to suck warmth right out of the house.

Kitchen

Use your oven for heating food, not warming feet. Every year, dozens of home fires are caused by ovens left on and unattended—sometimes by accident, but all too often on purpose. Turning your oven on and leaving the door open isn't efficient, isn't cheap, and most of all isn't safe.

On the other hand, using your oven and range to make fresh cookies and hot chocolate is a safe and yummy way to warm your family from the inside out.

Once you've got a handle on these simple things, you can move on to more complex projects for safely raising your home's energy efficiency so you can enjoy the season with less shivering and lower energy bills.

 What ways are you trying to save money on energy bills this winter?

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Andy Hollandbeck, author of the short story collection Seasonal Work, is a professional copy editor and author who has survived nearly four decades of Midwestern winters in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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Jill Greenlaw

Jill Greenlaw has a banking background. She gave that up 17 years ago when she got married and started having kids. She loved being a stay-at-home mom while raising her four beautiful children. A few years ago, Jill went back to work in sales. She is now working for the Mom It Forward team as their Community Manager. She loves her job. Her interests include camping, motorcycling, boating, photography, reading, cooking, and traveling. Put her in flip flops anywhere warm and she is happy.

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