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BBB Release: Stay Warm In Winter

BBB's Guide on Cold Weather Home Maintenance

Anchorage, Alaska – Dec. 9, 2010 – Frigid temperatures can cause indoor heating troubles—and unexpected costs—for unprepared consumers. In October 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Short-Term Energy Outlook predicted rising heating bill costs this winter for many U.S. consumers. The EIA anticipates greater expenses in households using natural gas, propane and heating oil; increasing by 4, 8 and 12 percent, respectively.

With a variety of heating systems available, Better Business Bureau covers winter-proofing basics to help deflect rising energy costs:

Furnaces: Most homes in the U.S. are heated by furnaces or boilers. Ensure the furnace's thermostat and pilot light are functioning properly; clean and replace the filter every month or as needed. Older furnaces may be due for replacement after 10 to 15 years Hire an inspector to make sure it's in safe working order.

Heating Ducts: Effective duct systems are designed to distribute air properly throughout the home, keeping all rooms at a comfortable temperature. However, design deficiencies, leakage and poor insulation can cause duct systems to lose efficiency and drain energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Simple upgrades—such as sealing leaks, adding insulation to exposed ductwork, inserting new return-air grilles or installing jumper ducts—can make a big difference. Clean ducts at least once every two years. For help, consult a qualified professional.

Chimneys and Fireplaces: Every year—preferably before the coldest season—have a chimney sweep inspect your wood-burning system. Be wary of animals, debris and leaves in outdoor units. On chimneys, close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. Replace old or leaky dampers, which can add hundreds of dollars to yearly heating bills.

Air Leaks: Be wary, most homes leak heat due to worn weather stripping and peeled or cracked caulking. Inspect and repair leaky doors and windows. Consider hanging thermal curtains on windows. If needed, replace worn or missing shingles and seal cracks in the home's foundation.

Tip: Try using a programmable thermostat to reduce heating costs.

Check out local heating system professionals with BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. For more solutions, check out Energysavers.gov, Homeenergysaver.lbl.gov and the DOE's Energy Savers Booklet.

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About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington: Better Business Bureau is a neutral not-for-profit organization with the mission to advance marketplace trust. BBB is supported by BBB Accredited Businesses and provides ethical business standards, BBB Reliability Reports, Charity Review Reports, complaint handling, marketplace events and tips. For more information, contact BBB or visit www.bbb.org.

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