<h2 style="margin: 10pt 0in 0pt"><font face="Verdana" size="3" color="#990000">Simple cost-effective tips on winterizing your home</font></h2><p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">(ARA) – Each fall, the temperatures begin to drop and heating bills begin to rise, causing many homeowners to tighten their budgets. What many people do not realize is there are cost-effective ways of preparing a home for the winter, which will save money in the long run.</span></p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt"><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Autumn is a great time to begin projects that will increase the heating efficiency in the winter as well as the cooling effectiveness during the summer months. Gina Carlson, the Academic Director for the Interior Design program at The Art Institutes International Minnesota, offers these helpful and low-cost tips:</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Close off any unused areas of the home so you don’t waste energy heating unused space.</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* If you are sitting in a chair reading or working at a desk, use a blanket or a space heater and keep the rest of the home at a lower temperature.</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Check the weather-stripping around the doors and windows. Leaky doors and windows are often the biggest culprits of heat loss. </p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Consider utilizing natural ways to heat in winter and cool in summer by using shade trees (deciduous) to cool the house from the intense summer sun and making the most use of large south facing windows to capture the winter sun.</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Add humidifiers to the living areas as it makes the air feel warmer in the winter, and dehumidifiers will make a room feel cooler in the summertime.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>More expensive tips that will eventually save money for the future year-round include:</strong></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Check your foundation, and insulate the rim joists around the perimeter of the house (the space where the basement wall meets the underside of the floor joists above).<span>  </span>This will help keep the heat inside the home.</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Contact an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean your heating and cooling ducts. Change your furnace filters once a month. This will help improve the efficiency of your furnace and extend its life.</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* If you have a standard thermostat, consider installing a programmable one. The heat should be used only when someone is home. </p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">* Replace leaky windows by investing in storm windows or install new thermal windows.</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">*Check the insulation in the attic – add more insulation to keep the heat in the home. *Homeowners can also insulate their basement walls to avoid heat loss.</p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"> </p><div style="text-align: center"><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,29,0" width="425" height="282"><param name="movie" value="../images/banners/8c.swf" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="" /><embed src="../images/banners/8c.swf" wmode="" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="282"></embed></object></div>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Making improvements to the home will eventually save money and cut the costs of wasted electricity. Currently, there are additional incentives to make these improvements to the home. In 2009, the government began offering income tax credits to homeowners who make qualified improvements or changes between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010. These changes and/or improvements can include replacing doors and windows and adding insulation, water heaters and furnace and/or fuel-efficient cooling systems. For more information about the income tax incentives, visit www.energystar.gov. </p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit <a href="http://www.artinstitutes.edu/nz" target="_blank">www.artinstitutes.edu/nz</a> .</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Courtesy of ARAcontent</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>EDITOR’S NOTE:</strong></p>  <p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">The Art Institutes (<a href="http://www.artinstitutes.edu" target="_blank">www.artinstitutes.edu</a>) is a system of over 40 education institutions located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.</span></p></span>