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Winter is coming

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting a lot colder. As New Englanders we are beginning to switch the items in our  wardrobes from light weight tee-shirts to heavy cardigans. This fall your closet should not be the only room in the house adjusting to the drop in temperature. Now is a great time to prepare your home for the winter months ahead. Winterizing your house will not only help keep you warm during the coldest months of the year, but will also help you save money.

Before the arctic wind chill hits, here are some things you can do to get your home ready for the frosty weather and all that comes with it:

Seal drafty spaces. Cracks and leaks around your home let cold air in, and drive heating bills up. According to Energystar.gov, homeowners typically save up to $200 a year in heating and cooling costs by air sealing their homes with insulation and  caulking. You can also apply weather stripping to cracks around door frames and windows to seal them. A home energy assessment can help identify issues.

Perform duct system maintenance. Central heating and cooling system ducts can develop leaks, reducing your home’s energy efficiency. Check ducts in any crawlspace, attic, basement, or garage to evaluate them for cracks.

Replace furnace filters. An emergency furnace repair visit in the middle of winter can be costly. Always try schedule maintenance appointments in the off season. And remember, a clean filter improves the function of your furnace. So, keep clean filters on hand and replace according to the directions for your furnace.

Insulate indoor piping. Exposed pipes are at higher risk of freezing, even a cold breeze from an unsealed window can cause ice to form. Using pipe wrap or tubular sleeves to insulate indoor piping will keep the water flowing and minimize the risk of a burst pipe. Pipe wrap comes in fiberglass, plastic, foil-backed natural cotton, and rubber tape. Longer pipes may need foam or rubber tubular sleeves for full coverage.

Clear outdoor gutters, drains and faucets. Gutters, drains, and outdoor faucets require maintenance as well. Debris can collect in gutters and drains causing ice and restricting drainage. Keeping these areas clear prevents water from entering your home causing flooding, or other damage. Disconnect garden hoses and drain outdoor faucets to keep water from pooling and freezing. And, don’t forget to winterize your outdoor sprinkler system, this can include blowing compressed air through the lines to remove any water.

Do-it-yourself or hire a professional? Some winterizing projects like caulking an unsealed window, or draining outdoor faucets can be done easily on your own. If you need help  for larger projects, or furnace maintenance make sure the professional you hire has the proper licenses and registrations to do the job.

Use our database to locate registered home improvement contractors in Massachusetts or visit the Division of Professional Licensure to verify plumbers, electricians, and other licensed professionals. Making informed decisions protects you and your property. Consult our guide to hiring home improvement contractors before signing a contract.

Our consumer hotline is available to answer questions about the Home Improvement Contractor program, assist with verifying a licensed professional, and other #MAConsumer issues Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm by calling 617-973-8787.

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