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Keep Your Home Warm and Safe During the Winter

Sara Croymans, Extension Educator — Family Resource Management, December 2012

Reviewed October 213 by the author.

Not only does cold winter weather bring increased utility costs but it can also bring home heating safety hazards. You can take simple steps to both manage heating costs and ensure your family’s safety. Staying warm can be much more challenging if the heat goes out in your home. Community resources may be available to help those who need assistance heating their home.

Reduce Energy Costs

Both homeowners and renters can save on heating costs and help keep their homes warm by taking simple steps, including:

See Energy Actions to Save $ and Increase Comfort (404 K PDF) for more tips.

Heat Your Home Safely

The winter heating season can be dangerous if precautions are not taken. When families use space heaters, wood burning stoves, or fireplaces, there is an increased risk of fire. Fires and other heating equipment accidents are often preventable if heating equipment is cleaned and properly maintained. It is good practice to review general safety tips, particularly those related to your specific heating equipment and fire safety, each winter. For practical tips to decrease your risk of fire, see the U.S. Fire Administration’s Winter Fires: Safety Tips for the Home. For more information on heating your home safely, see eXtension’s Home Heating Safety Tips.

Stay Safe during Winter Storms

Winter storms are considered a natural disaster. They can have a devastating effect on families and their homes. Here are some things to be aware of:

Reduce the probability of becoming a fire casualty by identifying potential hazards and following the safety tips outlined in U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA’s Winter Storm Fire Safety.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. However, if appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly (used inside vs. outside, etc.), dangerous levels of CO can result. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes. Learn more from Environmental Protection Agency’s Protect your Family and Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Energy Assistance Program

The Energy Assistance Program, funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helps pay home heating costs and furnace repairs for income-qualified households. Both renters and homeowners are eligible for the program based on income, household size, fuel type, and usage. Learn more about the Energy Assistance Program in Minnesota.

Related Resources

Winter Impacts — Online resources for protecting your home and property from winter damage.

AnswerLine — Phone and email system that can provide reliable, research-based answers to your consumer questions.

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