FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 27, 2011) -- As cold air has seeps into the area, it's time to look at making sure homes and Families are prepared for what's coming, according to Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Works officials.

But where does one start when "winterizing" a home?

The first place, according to Buddy Coleman, Fort Rucker energy engineer, is insulation.

"There are some very inexpensive products out there that can help weather-strip windows and doors," he said. "People should also run their hands around their windows, as they should be able to feel the cool spots."

Some electric companies also offer online checklists for those who want to conduct individual energy audits on their homes to help save money during the colder months, said Tony King, DPW Engineering Division resource efficiency manager.

"You want at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic," he said. "(Some power companies) will finance the insulation if you get a more efficient heat pump through them."

Watching heat settings is also important during this time because some central heaters use a lot of electricity and can cause higher utility bills, King added.

"It's a good idea to keep the thermostat between 68 and 70 degrees," he said. "Having a digital thermostat can really help you be accurate and save money on energy costs, too."

After a long spring and summer of not running an electric heater, dust can collect inside the vents and it can burn off as the heater starts up, King and Coleman said. It can produce a smell, but isn't usually dangerous.

"Unlike gas heat, electric heat won't produce carbon monoxide," King said. "When you turn on electric heat, you'll get that burn off of dust. If it goes on for more than 20 minutes, then you should get it checked out."

People who use gas heat in their homes should have their units checked periodically, usually about once a year, King added.

"If you have gas heat, it's a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector and to keep fresh batteries in it," he said. "When you go to turn on your gas heating unit and it doesn't fire or you have trouble keeping the pilot light on, it's best to call out a professional technician to check on it."

Page last updated Thu October 27th, 2011 at 00:00