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Check home during winter
Saving Money
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Now that you’ve been in your home for some of the cold months of winter, it’s a good time to do a house check. It’s easier to tell during cold weather where you might have air leaks or need more insulation.
• Give your home the barefoot test. Walk the rooms and check for drafts down on the floor under windows, at the exterior doors and near the fireplace.
• While it’s likely too cold to apply exterior caulking to window trim, clean plastic sheeting (the kind you shrink with a hair dryer) can be installed on the inside of windows. (Hint: Don’t trim to size until after you’ve used the hair dryer.)
• Even wall plugs and switch plates on exterior walls can be sources of air leaks. Investigate weather-strip insulation pads to seal out cold air. Add childproofing plastic inserts for plugs that aren’t being used.
• If you have a basement that’s unheated, insulate the pipes with jacketing or install heat tape to keep pipes from freezing. (Be careful not to cross the tape back over itself, as this will cause a fire.) If you have plastic pipes, ask for home-improvement advice, as you’ll likely need the type with an automatic thermostat to keep from melting the pipes.
• Have you checked your furnace filter? With the furnace running so often during cold weather, changing the filter once a month can keep indoor air cleaner as well as reduce wear and tear on the furnace motor.
• If you have an attic, check the inside of the plywood and rafters for leaks or wet spots. Use a flashlight to check around chimneys. If yours is an older home, it’s not too late to save money this winter by putting down another layer of insulation.
• Don’t ignore the outside of the house. You could face costly repairs in the spring if water is flowing toward the foundation. Check downspouts where they empty at the bottom and divert water with splash blocks. Check gutters for leaks.
• If you have a garage, check for leaks under the garage door. As a temporary measure, a thick stack of newspapers (newsprint only, not the slick ads) placed near the leak will soak up water before it travels across the concrete floor.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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