Getting your home winter ready
RAPID CITY, S.D. — We’re in for a cold weekend, and if you haven’t been preparing , this is as good a time as any.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes, and between 2012 and 2016, local fire departments responded to an average of 52,000 fires. Of that, there was an annual death toll of 490, 1,400 injuries, and $1 billion in direct property damage. So, how can you stay safe, save money, and keep warm this winter?
“This is the time of year where we do tend to see more structure fires related to heating equipment, and heating appliances,” said public information officer for the Rapid City Fire Department, Jim Bussell. “We want to remind people to be safe with those materials, and make sure that they are in good working order. That their home appliances are serviced by a qualified service professional and that they keep a minimum of three feet of clearance around their appliances.”
- Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet away from heating equipment like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, and portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot “kid free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
It is also recommended to never leave heating appliances unattended. As for saving during colder months and the holidays, Black Hills Energy has tips that could save homeowners between 5 and 12% on energy bills through winter.
“It’s amazing, by investing in a clean filter, having a service check, and making sure that programmable thermostat’s working, how many dollars you can save every month through the winter months,” said Mutch Usera, the Senior Program Manager of Community Affairs at Black Hills Energy.
While renters may not have full autonomy over their apartments, there are tips they can also follow to keep their winter costs low.
“The most important thing in apartments, especially if you are paying for a heating bill in the apartment, is again, back to the programmable thermostat,” said Usera. “That would be one key thing you want to make sure. Also, just making sure that the windows are caulked correctly.”
Experts say small investments will help during the winter.