6 timely tips to winterize your home

With the long, cold nights of winter just around the corner, Josephine Dries with Real Living Great Lakes Real Estate in Rochester Hills offers six easy steps consumers can take right now to winterize their homes to make them more energy efficient and save money.

“Heating and cooling America’s homes alone accounts for fully 20 percent of the nation’s annual energy consumption,” Dries said. “Taking a few simple steps to make sure your home is properly winterized and ready for the upcoming cold weather not only makes sense, but it could also save you money. Every homeowner can take the following six key steps to efficiently prepare for winter.”

Heating system: “Now is the time to have your heating system checked by a certified professional and make sure the filters are clean,” Dries said. “Don’t wait until the cold season to perform these tasks: That’s the busiest time of year for heating professionals and it could leave you in the cold and cost you more.”

Fireplace and chimney: “Always make sure your chimney is clear — especially of leaves that may have built up during this fall season,” Dries said. “Some experts suggest having it professionally cleaned once a year, especially if you use it often.”

Install a programmable thermostat: “This simple solution can save you hundreds – even thousands – off your winter heating bills,” Dries said. “A programmable thermostat is often less than $100. Be sure to check for the ‘Energy Star’ label.”

Roof: “One of the main ways cold enters a house is through loose shingles,” Dries said. “Having your roof checked and spot-repaired as needed can keep warmth in and the cold out – and prevent expensive water damage.”

Windows: “Determine if your windows are properly sealed by running your hands around the inside of the window to check if cool air is entering,” Dries said. “If so, most local hardware stores sell inexpensive window sealing kits.”

Plumbing: “Pipes in unheated areas of the house (crawl spaces, attics, etc.) are most susceptible to freezing and bursting,” Dries said. “To help eliminate this possibility, insulate pipes by wrapping them completely (or hiring a professional to do so) if they are stored outside.”

“When it comes to winterizing your home, the best policy is to be proactive with your maintenance and not wait until it’s too late,” Dries said. “This will save you the inconvenience of being left without heat and potentially save you a lot of money.”