Save money on the heating bill.

This winter will likely be a rough one for many in the United States. If you plan on keeping the house warm while also saving money on the heating bill, using the fire place is a great idea. Here’s what you can do to prepare your chimney before you start to use it this winter thanks to Life Hacker.

Remember, chimney fires account for over an average 20,000 home fires every year, so while it is wise to save money and use the chimney it is a good idea to know what you are doing before you use it.

It is recommended that you use a professional chimney cleaning and inspection service at least once a year to make sure you are completely safe from any life threatening injuries or damage that can be caused from using it.

Here is what you can do to protect your family and home:

Make sure the nothing is obstructing the smoke path

If you live in a heavily wooded area, it is important to make sure that there are no branches or trees right above your chimney. This can be a serious fire hazard and can even result in loss of life in some cases.

Removes excess ash

When using the fire place, ensure that all excess and remaining ashes are removed from the previous time you used it. The ash should never be one inch or more deep. When the ash is completely cooled you can either sweep or vacuum them out.

Stay up on wood, if needed

While many fire places are electric, some still need wood. Make sure you have enough fire wood for the fireplace and remember if you are storing them outside, dangerous critters like scorpions, snakes, and spiders like to hide under or around them. So make sure you look thoroughly before lifting and placing your hand near the wood.

Stay warm!