Last year, the winter season was unusually long, cold and brutal. The temperature dropped below freezing as early as September and we had six inches of snow on the ground by Halloween. It was necessary to start up the furnace much earlier than usual, and it ran steadily for seven straight months. We got hit by half a dozen blizzards, which brought in feet of snow, terrible wind chill, and temperatures down to twenty-six below zero. Despite doing my best to tighten up my home, there were drafts and cold spots all over the place. Standing near a window or exterior door, I could feel the chilly air seeping in. The furnace worked non stop and most often, operated at maximum capacity. On especially cold nights, the heating system struggled to keep up with demand. I finally closed off the vents and shut the doors to certain rooms, hoping to contain the heat to a centralized living space. At night, my family relied on heated blankets to keep warm. During the day, we all bundled up in multiple layers, warm socks and slippers. After paying such enormous heating bills, I am planning to make some changes before next winter. I need to add caulking and weatherstripping around the doors and windows, improve the insulation in the walls and ceilings, and make sure the furnace is running at its best. This fall, I will schedule professional maintenance to prepare the heating system for the upcoming workload. Hopefully, a thorough cleaning and tuning will promote superior airflow and energy efficiency. I don’t want to spend another winter shivering in my home.