Winter is just around the corner and the Department of Commerce urges Minnesotans to prepare for the cold.

Tips and resources to help ensure you are prepared for the winter ahead:

• Change your furnace filter regularly. At a minimum, filters should be changed every three months.

• Tune up your heating equipment yearly. An annual tune-up of your heating system can improve efficiency and ensure things run smoothly over the long run. Consider scheduling a tune-up before peak heating season arrives.

• Install a programmable or smart thermostat. The thermostats are helpful for people who are regularly away from home during the week or for long periods of time.

• Seal your heating and cooling ducts. Ducts that move air to and from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner or heat pump are often big energy wasters.

• Consider installing ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment.

If you use propane to heat your home:

Buy early! Fill your tanks early to avoid paying higher prices when demand peaks.

• Consider a budget plan to spread out payments. Distributors must notify budget-plan customers of price or fee changes that may affect their monthly payment amount by more than 20 percent.

• Know your rights. There is also a prohibition on extra fees, such as adding any service, distribution, transportation or other fees to the bills of customers who enter into a contract with the distributor.

Additional resources

Energy Assistance Program: The Energy Assistance Program, funded by the federal government and administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, helps pay for home heating costs and furnace repairs for households earning less than 50 percent of the state’s median income. In 2018, more than 125,000 Minnesota households received assistance. Learn more at mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance.

Weatherization Assistance: Minnesotans who qualify for energy assistance may also be eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program, mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/weatherization, can permanently reduce energy bills.

• Guides: Learn more about efficient heating and cooling with ENERGY STAR’S Guide to Energy Efficient Heating & Cooling and the MN Department of Commerce’s Home Energy Guide.

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