The approach of winter brings a chill to homeowners and home insurance companies alike.
Homeowners feel the pinch in their pocketbooks from rising energy bills. Heating and cooling account for 56 percent of the energy use in a typical American home, according to the Department of Energy.
Home insurance companies take a similar hit from the estimated 54,500 home fires each year in the United States, one-third of which occur during January and February, causing an average of 190 deaths, 625 injuries and $286 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Despite the certainty of winter, many of us fail to take steps to save on winter heating bills and minimize heating-related home insurance risk.
"Most people don't really have a clue," says Kirk Lindstrom, vice president of operations for Building Energy Experts, an energy management firm near Chicago which conducts residential and commercial energy audits. "We focus on the building envelope. If it has a lot of holes in it, you've got issues."
Here are six money-smart ways to bundle up your home this winter, with cost-savings estimates by Building Energy Experts.