By Stacy Fisher

Winterizing your home or business means needing less heat in the winter and still staying warm and cozy. Owner Arlin Billington of Billington Ace Hardware in Susanville says that winterizing your residence makes common sense to be energy efficient.

“The primary benefit is to prevent cold air intrusion during the winter months,” Arlin notes. “and at the same time, keeping warm air inside longer can save an enormous amount of money in reduced energy bills.”

Making sure your home is well sealed against the elements is not usually an expensive undertaking, he insists. Checking areas around electrical receptacles, faucets, window seals, openings where stove-pipes extend through the ceiling, doorframes and door jams, and making sure none of these areas are pathways for heat loss only takes a little time and effort. Fireplace flues should remain closed when not in use.

“A well sealed house can improve the value of your home,” Arlin points out. “It shows that the home has been well attended to.”

Weather stripping is one of the least expensive and one of the best ways to winterize, and it’s easy to install. Use weather stripping to block leaks around the doorframe.

If you have single pane windows, consider spending some money on double pane instead, greatly reducing heat loss.

On a windy day, close your windows to check for air leaks. You can use a lit incense stick and watch if the smoke trail is affected by any air seepages.

Plumbing is especially susceptible to freezing in cold weather. Burst pipes can be very expensive to repair. Make sure to insulate any exposed water or drain pipe such as in crawlspaces or outside walls. Purge your sprinkler system to avoid broken pipes.

Owners of residential properties who are going away for several months and leaving their homes unoccupied, should always shut off the water supply and drain the entire plumbing system.

If the furnace doesn’t seem to be working correctly, it may just be that your pilot light is out. Or it could be something more serious. Have your furnace checked by a service technician or do it yourself if you know how.

Insulate your hot water tank with an insulating blanket that you can buy at most hardware stores. Close or cover the vents on air conditioning units.

For most people, it has been several years since they’ve had their fireplace chimney cleaned. Hire a professional chimney sweep to make certain it is clear for efficient operation.

Also check the flashing around chimneys where leaks can occur. Wet leaves remaining in the gutters over winter add significant weight when frozen and increase the risk of damage.