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Your Winter To-Do List: Save Money, Keep the Chill Out

Grocery stores have started selling Halloween candy, and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spiced Latte is back on the menu: Fall is upon us, and chilly weather isn’t far behind. Start preparing for colder temps with these five to-dos to keep your home warm and safe this winter.

Weatherstripping – Weatherstripping can be used to seal air leaks around doors and windows. By keeping warm air in and preventing cold outside air from leaking indoors, weatherstripping can help you save on your heating bills. This is especially true in older homes with leaky windows and doors. Energy.gov’s helpful fact sheet breaks down your weatherstripping options and provides some installation guidance. (Also, if you have storm doors or windows, make sure to install them before the cold arrives. Now is a good time to inspect and repair them, if necessary.)

Switch the direction of your fan – In the winter, your fan should rotate clockwise (from your position looking up at it) at the slowest speed. Turning clockwise, the fan’s blades pull cold air up, which then pushes warm air down toward the room’s occupants. Used in combination with a wise temperature setting, this tip can save consumers up to 15 percent on their winter bills. If you’re not sure how to change the direction of your ceiling fan, watch CUB’s quick how-to video

Change your furnace filter – This is an important maintenance step to ensure your furnace is operating properly and efficiently. You should check your filter monthly. To determine if it’s too dirty, remove the filter and hold it up to the light. If you can no longer clearly see light, change the filter. To install a filter correctly, ensure that the arrow printed on the edge of the filter points toward the blower motor. Putting it in backward decreases the filter’s efficiency.

Schedule an HVAC inspection – While you’re replacing your furnace filter, schedule an inspection with a reputable HVAC contractor. Most systems last 10 to 15 years but can last longer and run more efficiently with maintenance. An inspector can check your system to ensure everything is working properly. Try to schedule an inspection for early fall if possible: it’s better to identify any issues with your furnace before the weather turns frigid.

Drain your outdoor spigots – Water freezing in your pipes during cold weather can lead to burst pipes — a financial and home-repair disaster. Read CUB’s how-to blog to properly drain your outdoor faucets and prevent a water-pipe nightmare.

Bonus tip – Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. We’re all blasting the furnace or building fires during the winter months, making us more susceptible to accidental house fires and carbon monoxide exposure. Ensure your detectors are working — replace the batteries if you’re unsure of the last time they were changed.