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Hetzel: Winterize on a dime
As for Me and My House
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Forecasters are predicting a really cold winter this year. I sure hope that it doesn’t top 2010. During the second week of February, our city was paralyzed with a snow and ice storm. While the kids loved the break, it came at the worst time. 

I was going through a divorce. I slid on the ice, broke my wrist and ended up in surgery. On top of that, I discovered that I was in the middle of a crash course: Taking Care of Your house in Need of Repair. Our oil burning furnace kept turning off in the middle of the night. Freezing temperatures required crawling like a Ninja underneath the house and hitting the reset button. Fuel lines were leaking gas. Towering pine trees were leaning dangerously close to our house. 

I’ve learned a lot since then. There are critical things that must be done to maintain your home. The tips that follow are lessons that I’ve learned from my friends at Home Depot Store #128, my dad and some really generous friends. The list, while not exhaustive, is a list of things to consider. Some things, like replacing a furnace, are best left to the experts. So please let this serve as my disclaimer. I am not a licensed contractor or home repair expert. Always consult your manufacturers and service representatives. I’m just one mom, trying to take care of my family and my house. 


Check your bills. Look at your energy costs from last year. If you didn’t keep any statements, visit your biller’s website. Most keep statements. Visit Click on the section called Energy Savings at Home. Use the Home Energy Yardstick. It will review your data, give you a score and list suggestions for you. 

Contact your provider. Many companies provide budget billing. They analyze your usage for the past year, anticipate projected costs and set a standard charge. At the end of the year, if you have used less than the projected amount, your biller will credit your account. 

Get an Energy Audit. While you are your biller’s website, find out if  it provides a free energy audit. This can be done through software or an appointment at your home. Either method can yield a checklist for you to review. 

Do a “Walk-Through.” It’s always a good idea to look at each area on your own. A good rule of thumb is to check everything once a quarter, preferably before each season starts to change. 


Next time: Checklist for a walk-through.


Lisa Hetzel is a local Christian freelance writer, speaker, teacher and mom. Go to to find out more.