Here's how to get through this winter without burst pipes, broken furnaces, heat loss, ice dams, house fires, flooded basements, unwanted critters, huge energy bills, cold feet and other problems that can plague the frigid-weather homeowner.
Have it inspected by a professional chimney inspector every year.
Have it cleaned every year or two, or more if you have a lot of fires or tend to burn softer woods.
A chimney cap with a rain hood and screen will minimize rain damage and keep critters out.
Stock up on clean, dry firewood. A fireplace store can recommend someone to deliver and stack it for you. Store it away from your house to keep mice and other vermin at a distance.
Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. When you're using it, turn down the thermostat and open a window near the fireplace to prevent warm air from being pulled from other parts of the house.
Install glass doors on the fireplace to keep warm air from being drawn up the chimney.
If you use the fireplace frequently, a fireplace insert improves efficiency by blowing heat into the room and limiting heat loss up the chimney.
Keep cold out, heat in
Reducing air leaks and properly insulating walls, crawl spaces and floors can cut energy bills by up to 10 percent. Seal leaky ducts with metal-backed tape or aerosol sealant. Consider having your insulation updated to save money, improve comfort and lower the risk of ice dams.
Set your thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees when you're home; lower it when you're sleeping or away from home for more than a few hours. Use a programmable thermostat to make the switches automatic.
On sunny days, open curtains and blinds to let the sun's heat in. Close them at night to trap the warmth inside.
Close or install storm windows, which reduce drafts and frost formation and can cut heat loss through the window by 25 to 50 percent. For a cheaper alternative, cover windows with plastic.
Schedule a home energy audit through your energy company. Through Xcel Energy, for example, a professional will inspect your home and identify ways you can save on energy, including windows, insulation and heating and cooling systems. Cost: $30 to $100.
Keep rooms toasty
Run your ceiling fan at low speed to circulate warm air down into the room.