Child and Mom on couch

Get a jump on this year’s predicted polar vortex

(BPT) – Last winter’s polar vortex not only affected the majority of the country with subfreezing temperatures, but wreaked havoc on utility bills. In fact, consumers in 13 states and the District of Columbia used enough energy in January to capture eight of the 10 highest winter demand days on record, according to PJM Interconnection, the electricity grid operator. According to the Farmers’ Almanac and other weather predictors, a polar vortex is expected to rear its ugly head again this winter.

Now is the time to take simple steps to prepare yourself and your home for the cold, unforgiving season ahead. These simple steps will help ensure your home is comfortable and cozy this winter:

Seal gaps and cracks

The average, mid-size U.S. home has an astonishing half-mile of gaps and cracks that outside air can infiltrate and conditioned air can leak out of, according to the Air Barrier Association of America. Air infiltration accounts for 38 percent of home energy loss. Even your doors and windows can let warm air out.

The good news is that you can fix it all. A few simple air insulating and winterizing projects can help homeowners save up to 30 percent on home energy costs, according to the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). Great Stuff Gaps & Cracks and Window & Door insulating foam sealants from Dow Building Solutions can help eliminate costly utility bills. Fill the gaps and cracks around doors and windows, small spaces – such as electrical outlets and plumbing pipes – for a cozy and energy efficient home. For a full list of ideas, reference Dow’s air sealing checklist.

Keep the critters out

While sealing your home, think about using a product that has the added bonus of keeping rodents, spiders and bugs out. The half mile of gaps and cracks throughout your home make up a super highway for critters even during the colder winter months. Use a pesticide-free sealant to seal up those entry points and save money on energy bills.

Schedule a home energy audit

Hire a professional to conduct an energy audit of your home to help identify areas of energy loss and projects that can help improve the overall energy efficiency of your home. Additional projects will have costs, but you’ll reap the benefits.

Prepare your fireplace

Before you ignite that warm, crackling fireplace, make sure to put a screen at the top of your chimney to keep out rodents and birds. Hire a chimney sweep to remove soot buildup from last winter.

Change the rotation direction of your ceiling fan

Today’s fans have a small switch that changes the rotation direction. During the winter months, turn your fan clockwise so that it sends the warmer air collected near the ceiling back down to your main living space. You’ll have the benefit of circulated air that also keeps you and your family warm and comfy all winter long.

With these tips in mind, all you need is a few days or a weekend to get your house ready to fight the cold and help ensure you have a warm, cozy and comfortable environment for your family and guests! For more winterization tips and information on where to purchase products, visit

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