Before you know it, winter will be upon us, and we’ll be eager to crank up our thermostats. Cranking the heat may keep our teeth from chattering, but it doesn’t keep our wallets from emptying on expensive electricity bills. Not to mention the environmental impact we have by using high amounts of electricity. Instead of letting Jack Frost sneak up on you this year, here are some eco-friendly tips so that you’re prepared when the cold weather sets in. These sustainable tips get your home ready for the cold, conserve energy, and save you money.

1. Energy Audit: An energy audit can help determine how energy efficient your home is, which is especially important in the cold winter months. They can help you determine if you have enough insulation, where leaks around windows or doors are, and other helpful tips. Check with your utility company, some offer free or low-cost energy audits.

2. Get Fireplaces inspected: Do you have a fireplace or wood stove? Before winter really sets in, ask your local fire department to recommend an inspector, or search for local chimney cleaning experts. Burning wood for heat can be a good way to conserve energy, but you want to make sure that your fireplace is sealed properly, and that you can burn wood safely.

3. Protect your pipes: Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze. Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

4. Weatherize: Even if you inspected your home for cracks and holes last year, check again! It’s an easy way to keep your house well sealed, and make sure you aren’t wasting energy by letting heat escape. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, add insulation to your walls and attic. You can even consider purchasing insulated doors and storm windows to further protect your home from the cold.

5. Buy supplies: In the event of a severe winter storm, you’ll need to have supplies on hand, such as rock salt to melt ice on walkways, sand to improve traction and now shovels and other snow removal equipment. Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.

6. Watch your roof: Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to hold unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water, if the drains on flat roofs do not work. Also check for any cracks and imperfections. The less heat that escapes, the more money you save, and the more energy you conserve!

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