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Winter is a time for sledding, snowballs, warm fires and decorations, but sadly also higher energy bills. Although there isn't much you can do about the cost of the energy needed to heat your home, you can take steps to winterize your home to reduce your reliance on energy to keep your family warm and toasty all winter long.

Here are seven inexpensive tips for winterizing your home.

1. Use a Roof Rake to Prevent Ice Dams

When snow accumulates on your roof, the warmer temperature inside your attic melts some of it, and snowmelt then flows down to the gutters where it forms icicles. Though pretty, they can create ice dams and cause water to back up into your house, generally leading to expensive repairs. Use a roof rake to clear the snow off of your roof at regular intervals, just make sure you have help if you're using a ladder.

2. Seal Air Leaks

One of the most cost-effective ways to reduce your heating bill, especially if you live in an older home, is to use a caulking gun or weather strip to seal windows inside and out – you could additionally install draft guards under your doors. According to Natural Resources Canada, "if you combined all the cracks and leaks in a typical older home, you would have a hole almost big enough to allow a Saint Bernard through."

3. Insulate Pipes

You should wrap any hot water pipes that run through unheated areas of the house, as well as hose outlets outside, with a fiberglass insulation blanket, available in pre-cut sizes at most hardware stores. This way you won't have to keep your heat quite as high to ensure your pipes won't freeze.

4. De-Ice Your Driveway

The last thing anyone needs is a slip-and-fall because of an icy driveway. Right after a storm you should always clear your driveway from snow and then line the surface with rock salt or sand. Just remember to remove the sand in the spring so it won't clog your drains or sewer.

5. Stay Warm the Old-Fashioned Way

The more you keep your own body temperature up, the less need you'll need heat. It sounds simple, but layering your clothes and bundling up indoors will help keep you comfortable. On a cold day you could also consider baking bread – the oven warms the house and fresh, hot bread tastes and smells delicious. Also, you should keep your curtains open on south-facing windows to let in warm sunlight.

6. Check Your Fireplace

Clean your fireplace before winter starts so air will flow more freely. Remember to close the damper when you're not using it so all the warm air doesn't escape through the chimney. If the damper is old and you don't use the fireplace, add insulation to seal it off. You can also consider saving money to replace your fireplace with a wood-burning stove – it can be a more efficient way to heat the house.

7. Use Snow - Yes, Snow - to Insulate Your House

It sounds counterintuitive, but banking snow against your house helps keep it warm. It's also a fun way for the whole family to get involved in winterizing your home. Snow is a great insulator, which is why wild animals burrow in it and people still live in igloos. According to Snow-Forecast.com, 10 inches of fresh snow is equivalent "to a six-inch-layer of fiberglass insulation."

Winterizing your home doesn't have to cost much to be effective. You can do plenty of things, even on a shoestring budget, to keep your heating bill down as temperatures rise.

Disclosures

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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