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Buildings Button up your house this winter with energy-saving tips

Published on November 1st, 2013 | by Dan Thiede, CERTs

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Winter Checklist: Button Up Your Home With These Energy-Saving Tips!



By Mary LaLone, Xcel Energy. See the original article on Xcel Energy’s CONNECT blog.

Have you ever wondered why “fall cleaning” isn’t as popular as “spring cleaning?” With winter comes more time indoors and more indoor entertaining. It seems the perfect time of year to be sure your home is cozy and buttoned up!

Here’s a checklist to help keep this season’s winter wonderland outside….

Button up your house this winter with energy-saving tips

The Furnace

  • Move materials away from the furnace, especially flammable materials.
  • Check your pilot light. If it isn’t burning, follow the instructions for relighting which are typically printed on access doors. You can also find information on the manufacturer’s website—that’s where you should go to learn about maintenance requirements for your equipment. If you have difficulty, call a qualified heating contractor for advice.
  • Vacuum out any dust or debris in and around the unit, especially the blower. Replace the filter if needed.
  • We recommend that you have your furnace professionally inspected each year by a qualified professional. These are some things they might do:
    • Lubricate the blower motor with a non-detergent motor oil.
    • Remove the flame shield and check the burner for corrosion.
    • Check the flue for gaps or dents and make sure it is venting properly to the outdoors.

Around the House

  • Set your programmable thermostat for winter! Click here to see recommended settings from ENERGY STAR.
  • Create a clear area around the heat registers by moving furniture, rugs, drapes, etc. Vacuum out dust in registers.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Be sure to keep extra batteries on hand.
  • Check that your fire extinguisher is fully charged; replace if needed.
  • Check windows and doors for drafts, and install weather stripping where it’s needed. A qualified contractor can also help you test for leaks and seal them, and can also add insulation to your attic and walls if needed.
  • Check your fireplace for soot or creosote build-up. Schedule a visit from a reputable chimney sweep if needed.

Outside the House

  • Shut off valves to outdoor faucets. Open spigots and drain and store hoses.
  • Make sure furnace intakes and outputs are clear (nothing is crowding them) and keep snow away from them.
  • Take advantage of the sun’s warmth; trim back bushes and trees around your windows.
  • Clear downspouts and gutters, and visually inspect the roof (if you’re comfortable doing this yourself). This is also something that a qualified company can help you do. If you do it yourself, remember to always keep yourself and any tool or equipment you may be using at least 10-feet away from overhead lines, and not to use ladders or get on your roof if it’s wet or icy.

Don’t forget that your utility has cold weather rebates to help you keep your house cozy and warm this winter! Visit your utility’s website or give them a call to learn more.

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About the Author

is the Communications Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams, or CERTs, at the University of Minnesota. CERTs works to advance the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in communities across Minnesota by helping people learn, connect, and act.



  • Pepper Cee

    What a great way to live green at home! I wouldn’t mind sharing this to renters of Decatur Crossing as well as in other rentals so we can help make our earth greener!

  • Omega Centauri

    If you have north facing windows that don’t get winter sun, leave the bushes untrimmed, they actually provide some protection from the cold and on a clear night might warm the outer walls by a few degrees. For sunny windows, the gain from the sun exceeds the slight loss of “insulation”.

  • Omega Centauri

    On your sunfacing windows, remove screens for the heating season. Screens can absorb as much as half of the solar energy. Install thermal curtains that you can close at night, windows have only a fraction of the insulation capability of walls/attics, and lose a disproportionate amount of heat, so thermal blinds can make a substantial difference.

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