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By Juan Velasco

November 22, 2012 (San Diego) -- With the cold weather setting in, consumers should be aware of certain safety measures and energy-efficient tips to keep their home comfortable throughout the winter months.

1.       One of the easiest heating tips: On sunny days, take advantage of the sun to bring in heat. Adjust blinds so they are open and tilted toward the ceiling—but be sure to close the blinds at sundown.

2.           Wetness equals warmth: Homes become dried-out in the wintertime. During cold weather, increased use of your heater causes the home and its interior air to become dryer than usual. A humidifier can help add needed moisture to your home during the wintertime.

3.           Humidifiers can also improve health issues like dry sinuses, while saving energy. Since moist air holds heat, you may feel more comfortable and lower your normal heat setting due to the increased comfort.

4.           Make sure to maintain your humidifier properly. Whether it is a portable or a whole-house humidifier, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for care. However, in general, clean or replace the filters regularly and wash the base and reservoir.

5.           Fireplaces can waste a lot of energy, as they pull warm air out of the house through the chimney. Make sure the damper is closed when you’re not using your fireplace. Installing glass doors can also help keep heat in your home when the fireplace is not in use.

6.           Exhaust fans can pull heated air out of your house and cause negative pressure inside your home that can lead to back drafts from your fireplace, through the walls, windows and un-insulated outlets in your home. Use exhaust fans sparingly, and turn them off when not in use during colder weather.

7.           One of the best home heating tips is to get regular HVAC inspections. Be sure your professional heating tune-up includes: inspection of the overall safety of gas systems, thorough inspection of the heat exchanger, thermostat calibration; inspection and cleaning of the air handler/blower; filter inspection and cleaning; inspection of wiring and connections; identification of hot and cold spots in the home; and gauging electrical systems for proper amp draw.

The best defense against heating problems is to make sure your system is maintained year-round. Having heating equipment serviced by a reputable company at least once a year could reduce your heating bill and prevent costly repairs and replacements in the future. Follow these tips and you will maintain a warm and comfortable house, while saving money throughout the winter season.

Juan Velasco is general manager of ARS, a residential heating and air conditioning company. For more tips or information visit CSLB Lic # 791820.

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