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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Oct 2, 2008

By the time you read this, you’ll probably have felt the first nip of fall.

With frost hitting parts of the region this morning, it gives us just a hint of winter. So along with the turning fall colors and heavier coats, it’s time to winterize.

Particularly this year, with rising heating bills, winterizing is a good idea not only for the environment but also for the pocketbook. A few dollars spent now can save you possibly hundreds this winter.

So where do you start?

Check the obvious places, of course. Check those doors and windows to see how tightly they’re sealed. Use insulating foam to fill any gaps or cracks.

Wall sockets are another area to check. You can take off the face plate and use spray foam insulation to fill the gaps.

Inside, you can tape on poly sheeting that tightens with a blow dryer. It will make a huge difference this winter when the wind is howling out of the northwest.

If you need to add extra insulation to the attic or walls, it’s not too late for that either. It might cost a few dollars now, but it will be worth the expense.

Despite higher corn prices, corn furnaces are still a relatively good deal, especially when compared to petroleum prices. They’re much easier to install than regular wood heaters since the exhaust pipe is much smaller.

And if you do heat with wood, make sure you do so safely. Make sure you have an adequate smoke draft. A general rule of thumb is to make sure there is a minimum of 10 feet in any direction on a horizontal line to the roof.

While it’s a good idea to get a professional to install that woodstove, many people do it themselves. You want to have adequate space from the walls, of course, and make sure that you have a fire-proof surface such as brick under and behind the stove. Make sure there is a direct line between the draft and firebox and exhaust.

Make sure you put in a damper in the stovepipe just above the stove too. It works as a sort of carburetor to make a better draft.

Another good idea is to use two, 45-degree-angled pipes to reduce downdrafts. And also make sure you use double-walled pipe when you’re within two feet or so of a wall or ceiling to prevent accidental combustion.

Also make sure the fuel you burn is safe. Avoid burning treated wood or wood that hasn’t properly cured since it can create high creosote levels. Popular woods in our area are ash and oak.

A little common sense now can help a lot later when you’re preparing for winter. The key word, though, is prepare. Ask your insurance agency to inspect for safety.

You’ll be glad you did.