Hibernate in style and comfort this winter

(ARA) - OK, so humans don't really hibernate, but when those bone-chilling winds arrive, we all tend to prefer the climate-controlled comfort of our own homes. And like all creatures, great and small, who endure the hardships of winter, we must prepare.

While storing nuts or putting on a little extra winter fat may get some through the long days or nights, making a few home improvements can make your "nest" a little more habitable this winter (extra fat is optional).

If you consider your home to be a living, breathing thing, then its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is its lungs and the ductwork its arteries. As you schedule checkups to keep your family healthy, do the same for your home's heating system.

An HVAC professional can perform a routine maintenance checkup to ensure all components of your HVAC system are operating properly and safely, and advise you on ways to improve energy efficiency. To locate an independent American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning dealer near you, visit www.americanstandardair.com.

Here are some other suggested household checkups to cross off your list before winter arrives:

* Check the ducts for leaks and inspect the fireplace and repair as necessary
* Inspect windows and pipes for leaks
* Properly insulate the attic
* Remove dirt and clutter from gutters and replace gutters if they are damaged
* Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly
Improving your home before cool air sets in
As you winterize your home, it may become more apparent and more realistic to improve and replace rather than service and maintain. That old furnace may be costing you extra cash, and the cost of fuel never goes down in the winter. Also, have you considered the air quality in a home sealed up tight for the winter? Here are a few things you should consider improving to ensure a cleaner, healthier and more comfortable home environment:

* Consider adding a heat pump to your HVAC system. A heat pump does the job of an air conditioner and a furnace. But unlike a furnace, it doesn't burn fuel to create heat. It uses electricity and works with your indoor furnace or air handler to keep your home warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and comfortable all year round. American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning's Heritage(R) 20 Communicating Heat Pump is an economical option for homes with gas and electricity available.

* A whole-home air filtration system may be what the doctor ordered ... literally. A tightened up home can be a haven for dust, dander, bacteria and the flu. An air filtration system can remove up to 99 percent of allergens from a home's filtered air. It'll keep you breathing easier and healthier.

* Add a programmable thermostat - it can help you save time and money.

* Add a dehumidifier. Keeping a good balance between too dry and too moist is difficult in the winter but houses with too much moisture can harbor bacteria and germs, and not to mention damage woodwork like window frames and doors.

So, as your home creaks and settles into its winter routine you should be safe, warm and comfortable having enjoyed your preparations and improvements. Courtesy of ARAcontent