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Stay warm this winter: home heating tips for tricky spaces

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Updated: 1/25/2013 10:39 am

(BPT) - When cold winds blow, it can be tricky to keep different rooms throughout your home at the right temperature - especially if you have old and drafty windows, tight spaces or room additions to work around. It can also be challenging to ensure economical comfort without having to do a major heating system overhaul. Yet there are easy and flexible ways to heat your home in areas where it needs it most and still stay comfortable all winter long.

Odd-shaped rooms in older homes, additions such as sunrooms and bonus rooms, and far-flung spaces like remodeled basements and attics can pose a heating challenge. In addition, some homes have no ductwork heating system, making it impractical or expensive to consider installing one to heat such spaces. If this sounds like your house, consider these tips to keep your home warm this winter.

Go ductless with room-by-room heating

A ductless heating system can provide comfort where you want it, when you want it. For example, American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning offers ductless split systems that can be retrofitted to a house that has no ductwork, or if the central heating system is already at capacity. Advantages of these systems include their small size and flexibility for heating and cooling individual rooms.

A ductless system consists of two simple components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and one or more indoor units that deliver heated or cooled air. Since there is no ductwork, the small indoor unit can be mounted on most interior walls. Mini Split Models have one outdoor unit and one indoor unit. Multi Split Models can have up to five indoor units connected to one outdoor unit, for heating rooms both efficiently and economically. Each unit is also individually controlled, for room-by-room comfort.

Add warmth with a gas stove or fireplace

Another option to consider is an individual heating unit, such as a gas stove. This can be a great solution for a hard-to-heat space, such as a porch converted to a year-round room. These stoves give off all the warmth and glow of a traditional wood burning fireplace or stove, and can keep an entire room comfortable in the coldest months of the year, even if they are the room's only heat source. Simply turn the flame on or off with a button, or set it to ignite only when the room reaches a preset temperature. Another consideration is a gas fireplace insert to efficiently heat your existing fireplace, a good solution in a basement or added family room.

Keep hot air in and cold air out

Some simple repairs around the house can also ensure you're not wasting precious heat. For example, older windows can let heated air escape. If you can't replace your windows with more energy-efficient ones, improve the performance of the ones you have. Some ideas from the U.S. Department of Energy include using a heavy duty clear plastic sheet on a frame or taping clear plastic from the inside of the window to reduce drafts; installing tight fitting, insulating window shades; and opening curtains and shades in the daytime to let in warming sunlight. You can also reduce heat loss by up to 50 percent by installing exterior or interior storm windows.

There are no excuses for being cold this winter. Use these tips to keep Old Man Winter and his frosty breath at bay.

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