Safe and efficient home heating

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The winter season is officially upon us, and carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real danger that comes with heating your home.

"Every home that has any gas in it should have a carbon monoxide alarm," said Mike Hansen, the Weatherization Program Manager at Housing Resources of Western Colorado.

Though that advice is pretty straightforward, he says many people neglect a unit, or don't have enough in their home.

"The code says that you should have one within ten feet of every bedroom. That's where you're really trying to protect yourself, if when you're sleeping at night, that you don't want to get carbon monoxide poisoning."

Many homes use gas furnaces for heat that are often tucked away in the basement, but can be dangerous if ignored.

The important thing with a furnace like this is for you to open it up every year to get in there and clean it out.

"It's only dangerous if you are afraid of it and you lock it away in a corner and leave it sitting there and never clean it. Then it becomes dangerous, and that's what causes the carbon monoxide," Hansen said.

You can't see it, and you can't smell it, so if you are worried about carbon monoxide in your home, there are other ways to heat the household with less risk, and even less cost, like single room electric heaters.

"We recommend that you use the oil filled, because if it gets knocked over, there's no coils that are going to catch something on fire."

But if you plan to use your built-in system, Hansen says one easy, but often overlooked tip can save more money than you think.

"If you have rooms you're not using, you want to close off the vents in those room and just heat the smallest area possible that you can."

The CDC says that nearly 500 Americans die each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning, with the majority coming during the winter months.

Experts recommend changing the batteries in your detectors twice a year, or each time you change your clocks.

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