Old Man Winter always takes a big bite out of the family budget. This year as energy and fuel costs continue to skyrocket, many families may be forced to make some hard decisions about how to pay for necessities.

It’s going to be tough going, but you can ease some of the financial burden if you take advantage of the following advice provided by Ace Hardware, ARS/Rescue Rooter, and Blaine Fox.

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Tips To Winterize Your Home That Will Cut Energy and Fuel Costs

Just about everybody knows that “Ace is the place for the helpful hardware man,” but did you know that there really is a Helpful Hardware Man? He’s Lou Manfredini, author of five DIY books, host of a call-in radio show with WGN Radio in Chicago called “The Mr. Fix-It Show”, and host of a nationally syndicated TV program called “House Smarts”. Here’s what he recommends:

  • Purchase your shovels, snow blower with gas, and salt/sand to pre-treat the driveway and sidewalks before a snowfall.
  • Insulate the attic to conserve energy and heat.
  • Insulate pipes, especially those near exteriors walls, to keep them from bursting.
  • Weather strip doors and windows to keep out drafts.
  • Install storm windows, or cover windows with plastic sheeting designed to keep out the cold.
  • Use all-weather caulk to seal around window and door frames and other openings on the exterior of the house.

The folks at ARS/Rescue Rooter, a national provider of HVAC and plumbing services, also have some great ideas on how to keep from breaking the bank this winter:

  • Install a programmable thermostat. They not only save energy, but they also allow your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Cooling) unit to run more efficiently, and possibly extend its life.
  • Keep air filters on your heating system free from dirt, lint, or other debris that can act as an insulation around the unit and keep heat from circulating. You should replace these filters monthly during the winter.
  • Install glass doors on the fireplace and keep them closed when the fireplace isn’t in use. This is important because a fireplace pulls warm air out of the house through the chimney.
  • Use exhaust fans sparingly, and turn them off when not in use. When used during cold weather, an exhaust fan can cause negative pressure inside your home that can lead to back drafts from your fireplace, as well as drafts through the walls, windows, and uninsulated outlets in your home.

The next two money-saving tips were provided by Blaine Fox, a 25-year veteran of the HVAC industry. Currently, Blaine is vice president of Warm Thoughts Communications, a marketing firm that specializes in assisting HVACR contractors. Blaine’s comments appear through the courtesy of Tom Peric, Editor of HVACR Distributor Business magazine:

  • Ask your heating system supplier for a maintenance agreement, and have your system tuned up periodically. Tune-ups make your system run efficiently, and this can cut your heating bill by 10 percent.
  • Install a zoning system, which allows you to heat/cool the areas of your home that are in use.

You may also want to investigate some new products on the market that are designed to help you cut energy costs:

  • Honeywell is launching a line of wireless, programmable thermostats, which use TV-like remotes to control the temperature of the room you’re in. In conjunction with this product, the company is also launching the first high-end color touch screen that allows homeowners to program heating schedules to improve efficiency.
  • Ellery Homestyles manufactures a product called “Eclipse Curtains”, an energy saving, noise reducing line of blackout curtains. They come in a wide variety of fabrics, styles and colors to fit in with any decor.

Pic of the Day: If it’s really hot or cold outside

If its really hot or cold outside