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Ten ideas offered to keep your family warm, safe inside when it's freezing cold outside

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Here are 10 ideas to help keep you and your family warm and safe inside when it's cold outside:

1. Seal off unused rooms by closing registers and shutting doors tightly.

Do not seal off more than 20 percent of your total living space because your furnace may not operate as efficiently.

2. Change your furnace filter.

Changing the filter regularly increases operating efficiency, reduces the chance of a breakdown and improves air quality in the home.

If you have questions, ask your technician while he or she performs the fall tune-up.

3. Keep your thermostat low. Each extra degree can add 4 to 5 percent to your heating bill, depending on the age of your furnace.

When you leave for the day or weekend, lower the setting by five degrees.

4. Invest in a programmable thermostat.

You can program it to automatically keep the temperature lower while you're sleeping or gone for the day.

5. Have fireplace checked.

A professional check is essential once a year. Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods in your fireplace.

6. Do not place furniture in front of heating registers.

7. Remove garden hoses from outside faucets and store.

Frozen hoses can cause pipes to burst.

8. Check weather stripping and caulking.

Eliminating drafts can significantly improve efficiency and comfort.

9. Open draperies on sunny days. Close them at night to keep out the cold.

10. Have winter supplies readily available.

If your area gets snow, make sure you have salt, snow shovels with curved blades — to protect your back — and other supplies on hand. Check the batteries in your flashlights.

High efficiency

What a difference a decade makes, according to experts in the heating and cooling industry.

Older furnaces may deliver only 50 percent to 60 percent efficiency.

If your heating and cooling system is over 10 years old, you might be surprised to find out just how many advantages there are to newer systems.

A properly installed furnace can provide more than 90 percent heating efficiency, which can save money and energy.

Other advances like computerized programmable thermostats make newer systems quieter, more efficient and more comfortable than ever.

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