There is good news. You can really cut down on heating bills by making a few minor changes, and if you're up for it, there are some big changes you can make that can really keep your home warm and your pocketbook full.
1. Lower your thermostat. This is one of the oldest, most tried-and-true methods for keeping your heating bills from skyrocketing. Keeping your thermostat on around 68 degrees (or colder if you can stand it) should be your goal.
2. Lower your thermostat even more. If you're going to be gone for the day, bump it down another 10 degrees or so. This can really help you save on that heating bill — from five to 15 percent annually.
3. Keep windows covered at night. Make sure you close blinds, curtains and other window coverings overnight, as well as when you're gone for the day. This can help keep that precious, precious heat from escaping.
4. Upgrade your window coverings. Thermal curtains or shades can boost your efforts, as less heat will go bye-bye and will stay inside where you need it most.
5. Grab a draft stopper. If you can feel cold air coming in underneath a door, get a draft blocker to keep that pesky wind outside where it belongs.
6. If you are using your fireplace, turn down your heater.
7. And when you're not using your fireplace, close the damper to prevent cold air from seeping in.
8. Caulk, seal and weather strip leaky windows. These leaks can let cold air in, making your furnace work harder — which means less money in your pocket.
9. Cover your windows with plastic, because that can help seal out drafts.
10. Install an energy-efficient pet door. Ordinary pet doors are a major source of drafts in homes, but there are modern models that work really well as they keep the cold air outside.
11. Have your air ducts looked over by a professional. Sometimes, the duct system can develop leaks as well, sending your money out into the thin, winter air, and insulating the ducts themselves can really improve your home's energy efficiency.
12. Install new energy-efficient windows. This isn't free nor easy, but the savings can be well worth the investment.
13. Seal your attic. If your home is prone to drafty rooms, uneven temperatures or dust, this project may be for you — or a qualified contractor.
14. Install an air duct damper. Air duct dampers allow you to control which rooms are heated — the perfect solution when you don't need to heat the whole house.
15. Install a Wi-Fi-enabled, programmable thermostat. Smart thermostats can actually learn what works best for your home, and can be set and changed remotely via your smartphone or tablet.
And if all else fails, when you're trying to stay warm this winter, wear an extra sweater, keep socks or slippers on your feet. You'll love the extra savings.
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