As summer turns to fall and air conditioners turn to heaters, it's important to protect your investment and make sure your cottage is ready for the change of seasons.

Learn how to prepare your cottage for winter.

Consumers Energy is offering energy-saving and safety tips to help ensure cottages stay safe during colder weather.

"Following some simple tips can help ensure a cottage remains safe and your energy bills stay low while you're away," said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy's vice president and chief customer officer.

Rochow offered the following tips:

  1. Check your home's insulation. More than 50 percent of energy used for winter heating leaves homes through uninsulated walls, floors, ceilings and attics. Insulation traps small pockets of air between warm and cold areas inside your home and helps keep warm air in during winter.
  2. Put simple weather-stripping around external doors. An 1/8-inch crack around the perimeter of a door is equivalent to a softball-sized hole in the middle of the door.
  3. Shut off the water supply and drain pipes and hot water tanks to help keep pipes from freezing. Antifreeze designed for RVs or another environmentally friendly kind can be placed into empty toilet bowls to help protect lines.
  4. Bring in all outside decor and other items such as lawn chairs, tables, and barbecue grills. Store them in a secure location to avoid the possibility of damage to property during harsh winds. Disconnect propane tanks from grills and store in an appropriate safe location.
  5. If there is a fireplace or woodstove, give it a thorough cleaning and close the damper flue. Remove any debris from the chimney opening and consider installing a cover to help prevent animals from nesting inside.
  6. Unplug all electrical appliances and electronic devices.

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