<p>(BPT) - Fall means colorful leaves, apple cider and cooler temperatures. It also means winter’s on its way, so now is the time to winterize your home.</p><p>Improve your home’s comfort and energy efficiency with a home energy audit. Making energy efficiency upgrades identified in a home energy audit can save 5 to 30 percent on your monthly energy bill, according to <a href="http://energy.gov/" rel="nofollow">Energy.gov</a>.</p><p>If you would rather perform your own walk-through, this checklist can help you prepare your home for colder weather:</p><p>Exterior home maintenance tips</p><p>* Clean those gutters. Remove leaves and debris, then flush your gutters with water. This will help prevent clogged drains and reduce the potential formation of ice dams, which can cause excess water to get backed up and seep back into the house.</p><p>* Clean your window and patio door screens and put them into storage. Better yet, consider investing in Pella Rolscreen products that roll out of sight when not in use, keeping them cleaner and eliminating the need for seasonal storage.</p><p>* Install storm doors. Storm doors help insulate your home against drafts and strong winds.</p><p>* Clean the tracks of patio doors and windows. Use a dry paintbrush to loosen dirt and debris and then vacuum to remove.</p><p>* Wash windows.</p><p>* Touch up exterior paint where needed.</p><p>* If you live in a coastal region, hose off exterior windows and doors to remove damaging salt from ocean spray. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, consider installing Pella windows and patio doors with impact-resistant glass, to help provide year-round protection.</p><p>Indoor home maintenance tips</p><p>* Schedule a furnace check-up by a professional to prepare it for the season. Also check to see if the filter needs changing.</p><p>* Add insulation. The amount of money you’ll end up saving in heating costs is likely well worth the investment of adding additional insulation to the attic.</p><p>* Check with your utility company to see if they offer rebates for energy-efficient home improvements including replacing windows or adding insulation.</p><p>* Clean and repair air ducts.</p><p>* Wrap pipes. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst. To help prevent this, insulate pipes with a pre-molded, foam rubber sleeve, available at most local home improvement or hardware stores.</p><p>* Reverse fans. Adjust your ceiling fan to rotate clockwise to push rising warm air down.</p><p>* Check for leaks and drafts. Stand next to window and door openings to feel if cool air is blowing through. Leaky windows or drafty doors may need to be replaced. If you find a small leak around a window, seal it from the outside with weather-resistant caulk. Also apply weather stripping to exterior doors as needed.</p><p>Replace energy-Inefficient windows</p><p>For a more long-term fix, replace old, drafty windows with a more energy-efficient option, like Pella’s 350 Series vinyl windows. Upgrading from single-pane to double-pane windows can also reduce energy costs, according to Energy Star.</p><p>Visit <a href="http://www.pella.com/news" rel="nofollow">Pella.com/news</a> to connect with a local Pella representative and discuss your replacement project plans, or shop online at <a href="http://pellaatlowes.com/" rel="nofollow">PellaatLowes.com</a>.</p>
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