According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, average household spending for heating oil and natural gas could increase as much as 19 percent this winter compared to last. In preparation, Better Business Bureau has a checklist to help consumers get their home ready for the colder months ahead, while also cutting back on unnecessary energy costs: •Furnace. Have your unit inspected to make sure it is in safe, working order. Additionally, check to see that the furnace filter is clean, the thermostat is working correctly and the pilot light is functioning. •Heating ducts. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60 percent of its heated air before that air reaches the vents. This occurs if duct work is not well-connected, improperly insulated or if air travels through unheated spaces. •Fireplace. Using your fireplace can keep you from running the heater as often, but make sure the flue is closed when it is not in use. This will keep cold drafts out of your home. If you notice a leak, have your chimney inspected or purchase a screen to cover your fireplace. You should have your chimney or wood stoves inspected annually. •Gutters and outside pipes. If freezing temperatures are expected, wrap outside pipes and clear your gutters to prevent possible cracking. Any clogs or excess water will expand as they freeze. •Caulking and weather stripping. Inspect the caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors for cracking and peeling. If you can feel air coming in, it also means heat could be getting out. To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org. About Better Business Bureau: BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.