I know that it’s hard to think about it right now, but winter is coming! Remember those long, dark months of waiting, with nothing but snow in sight? We do, and being the crafty (read: thrifty or downright cheap) Mainers that we are we’ve learned a few tips on how to get ready for the cold and keep it out of the house.

Growing up in Cranberry Horn was an experience. Since the original building had been a one-room schoolhouse converted to a home, the insulation in it was hit or miss. We heated with oil and wood, mostly wood that my father gathered and split, and we were always more than a little cold. The upstairs was unheated and the only source of warmth came from leaving the bedroom doors open at night to fend off the cold. As an adult I came to have a healthy respect for being warm and comfortable. This brings us to our first tip.

 

1.     Don’t leave it all until Fall. Seems like a simple enough concept, but all too often people find that while they’ve been enjoying the warm and sun that Fall has crept up on the. Now is the perfect time to look at what did and didn’t work during the last heating season. Make a plan and review it. Check to see what changes you can make now that will reduce your heating costs and possible keep you from a winter time emergency.

2.     Most Oil companies start their savings plans during the summer. Fall is too late to lock in the price, so check now if that is what you do. Most set the cost with an estimate and may offer a payment plan. We also have wood companies that deliver with the same kinds of options here. Even if you wait to stack it, you can at least take advantages of off-season deals now.

3.     If you haven’t had your furnace cleaned in a few years then go ahead and do it. I would suggest doing it now. Once Labor Day rolls around their appointments for these kinds of cleanings are hard to get. We had ours cleaned last summer and had targeted a portion of our tax return for this. When he came and checked the furnace he made necessary adjustments and even made sure that our 12 year old system was up to date.

4.     This is the time to clean the vents and filters in the house. All of them. The furnace filter is a given, especially since a clean filter will only help how hard your furnace needs to work. I also advocate keeping a spare on hand so that you have one just in case. If you have forced hot air like we used to have at River View, then you know that the dust and crud build up in the vents over the summer. The first time you turn on the furnace for the year it will choke. This is especially true for those with allergies. Clean it and run it in a test run so that you can get as much out as possible while you can still have the windows open to let in fresh air.

5.     Do your research. Many states offer plenty of incentives to home owners to decrease their energy costs. These are usually available at your state organizations website. Some offer consultations and suggestions for free or at a low cost to help you figure out just where you are losing the most heat.

 

Bonus tip: While cleaning your vents and filters be sure to clean your dryer vents. Built up stuff in the vents can cause fires. Also, if you do this at the same time each year it will set up good habits for years to come.



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