heat your homeYou know the seasons are changing when the air seems a bit crisper, you don’t leave home without a jacket and you need an extra blanket at night. It’s already fall. As the months get colder and Old Man Winter comes rushing in, many people will be turning their heat up and perhaps using other devices to warm their homes.

Before you cozy up to the fireplace or bring out the space heater that you haven’t seen since last February, make sure to consider some important fire safety guidelines.

Furnaces and fireplaces

The furnace is the main heat source for many homes. Natural gas is the most common fuel for furnaces in the U.S., and others include electricity, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), fuel oil, coal and wood.

  • Hire a professional HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) technician to thoroughly inspect your heating system, including your furnace. To avoid choosing the wrong company and ending up being overcharged or scammed, always consult your local Better Business Bureau® to find reliable, trustworthy and accredited businesses.
  • If your home has an older model thermostat, consider upgrading to a programmable one to make your home more energy efficient. If you have a programmable model, you can use home automation capabilities to schedule when you want to adjust the temperature and even control it with your smartphone.
  • If technology isn’t your thing, replacing your filters before you start using your heat can help make your heating system more energy-efficient.

Both gas and wood-burning fireplaces can provide heat and a sense of ambience to your home. They also come with different safety considerations.

  • Just like with your furnace, your fireplace and chimney should be inspected by a professional to ensure that the damper, flue and other parts are working properly. Remember to avoid scammers and overcharging by using a trusted service referred by a family member or friend, or check to make sure the company’s profile is on file with the BBB.
  • Part of having your chimney inspected should include having the chimney cleaned if there is a build-up of creosote. This combustible substance forms deposits on the chimney walls, making it a leading cause of home heating fires.
  • Prevent fireplace fires from growing out of control by having your chimney topped off with protective screening. This will prevent leaves, debris and animals from getting into your chimney and fireplace.

Space heaters

The three main types of space heaters are convection, radiant and combination models. Each type of heater differs when it comes to capabilities and energy use.

No matter which type of space heater you choose, remember some important do’s and don’ts when using these devices:

  • DON’T place anything flammable or combustible near the heater
  • DON’T drape clothing or blankets on or over the heater
  • DO use caution when using heaters – they can burn people and animals if they are in close proximity or if the device is turned up too high
  • DO use carbon monoxide detectors –make sure you have CO sensors to detect this odorless, colorless gas

In 2010, there were more than 57,000 home heating fires involving heating equipment, according to an official National Fire Protection Association report. Don’t become a statistic – protect yourself and your home this season and turn up the heat responsibly.

For more information about Safety & Security, find Elle Aldridge on Twitter @ElleEAldridge and https://twitter.com/ElleEAldridge

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