How to Heat Your Home Safely
There’s nothing better than settling into a warm house while the cold wind blows outside. But, getting — and keeping — your home heated may pose a safety issue if you don’t take the right precautions.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the leading months for home heating fires are December, January and February. Additionally, some of the methods used to heat your home may expose your family to toxic carbon monoxide levels if they are not used properly.
Follow these tips for heating your home safely when the temperature drops outside.
Before the winds of winter roll in, consider having your furnace inspected by a professional, says U.S. News and World Report. This may help lower the chances you will encounter a heating problem during the cold winter months. The professional will look for various problems, including carbon monoxide leaks, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). They may also vacuum out the furnace’s vents and check to see if the furnace’s filter needs replacing, according to HGTV.
U.S. News and World Report also recommends making sure no furniture is placed in front of your vents so the warm air can flow evenly throughout the room. Finally, changing your air filters on a regular schedule may help to reduce your energy bill because the furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to heat the space.
Before lighting your first fire of the season, consider having your fireplace professionally cleaned and inspected. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, a technician will inspect the chimney’s interior and exterior, ensure that it doesn’t contain any combustible deposits and isn’t obstructed. During the cleaning, you can also ask the technician to show you how to inspect the chimney in between visits, suggests HGTV.
When you’re ready to light a fire, be sure to check the fireplace area for anything flammable. The NFPA recommends using a sturdy fireplace screen to stop sparks from flying out of the fire and into the room and keeping anything flammable at least 3 feet away from the fireplace.
Finally, before you light a match, learn how to safely build a fire.
According to the NFPA, space heaters cause 43 percent of home fires. To keep your family and home safe when using a space heater, make sure you are purchasing a space heater with an Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label, according to the DOE. You may also want to consider looking for a space heater with advanced safety features, including sensors that shut it off in case it overheats or tips over, says Consumer Reports.
Once you get the space heater home, it is important to set it up in the room correctly. The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends placing the heater on a level surface, out of reach of anything flammable and plugging it directly into the power outlet.
Following the tips above can help make sure your home is safely heated all winter long.
Originally published on November 7, 2011.