Helpful tips to winterize your home

Freezing temperatures are not only uncomfortable, they can be downright dangerous for your home - unless you take the proper steps.

Many people wait until just before the first major snowfall to get their equipment ready, but it's far better to prep now.

Make sure your snow blower is ready for action. Fill it up with gas, and start it up to ensure it works.

Also, make sure your shovel is in good condition, and you have salt or sand for your driveway.

And clean your gutters.

"Because once we start to accumulate some snow on roof tops and ice, as that melts we want it to be free flowing down through the gutters. If its not, it will back up on your roof, and it can start to then come inside your home through the ceiling and the walls," said Jana Tidwell, AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Also, check your house for drafts and seal those areas up using insulation, weather-stripping, caulk or spray form. This can help you save as much as 20 percent off your heating costs.

Replacing a dirty furnace filter can also save you money. A clean filter can save you up to 15 percent on your heating bill.

And finally, insulate your water pipes and hot water heater. That can trim up to 9 percent off the cost of heating your water.

"It's most important to make sure your smoke detectors and carbon detectors are properly working and have fresh batteries in them. Research shows there are more residential fires and carbon monoxide deaths in the winter months," said Tidwell.

One more thing: If you haven't used your fireplace since last winter, it's a good idea to have it cleaned by a professional.

And remember, be very careful if you use a space heater. Do not leave it on when you're not in the room and when your sleeping. And make sure it isn't near curtains or anything else flammable.
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