Seven tips to keep your heating bill down this winter

Seven tips to keep your heating bill down this winter
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The crisp fall air feels like a balm after the summer heat. But as the days get shorter and temperatures plummet, that balm can quickly turn into a bite.

Climate experts predict this winter will be colder than last year, which will drive many of us to crank up the thermostat. And with energy prices on the rise, most households can expect higher heating expenses this year.

The colder temperatures don’t have to take a bigger bite out of your budget, however. There are plenty of ways to shave off a little from your heating costs, regardless of where you live. Here are some money-saving tips any household can implement, whether you own or rent your home.

Watch your windows

As much as 25 percent of your home’s heat loss occurs via the windows, especially if you have single panes. If you can feel a chill coming from the glass, consider getting thermal curtains or liners to help trap the heat inside — or if you don’t want to invest in new window treatments, quilts and blankets will do in a pinch. Take advantage of the sunlight by uncovering south-facing windows during the day to help warm the house, then covering them again at night.

Close the doors

There’s no point in paying to heat areas of your home you aren’t using. Close the heating vents and shut the doors of rooms you aren’t occupying. When using a room, close the door anyway to keep in the heat from your body and electronic devices. You might be surprised at how much warmth your normal activities can generate.

Lower the thermostat at night

Did you know lowering your thermostat by a single degree for eight hours can shave 1 percent off your heating bill? By dialing it back 7 to 10 degrees before bed, you can save up to 10 percent on your annual energy costs, according to the Department of Energy.

Place space heaters strategically

Space heaters aren’t an efficient way to heat your whole home, but using them strategically can help keep costs down. They work best when placed in an enclosed area rather than a large open space, so if you’re planning on hanging out in a particular room, consider turning down the thermostat and using a space heater for only the space you need.

Keep the fans on

It may seem counterintuitive, but running a fan in the winter can help keep you warmer. It circulates the air, forcing heat trapped near the ceiling back down toward the floor. If you have a ceiling fan, use the reverse or winter setting to propel warm air downward.

Clean the vents

It’s amazing how much dust accumulates in your vents over the course of the year. Vacuum them out to help keep warm air circulating freely. As an added bonus, this will also help improve the air quality in your home.

Close the flue

It’s hard to beat a toasty fire on a cold winter night. A fireplace can provide a cozy source of heat — but not if you leave the chimney flue open. It’s basically the same as opening a window several inches, so close it after each use.

When it comes to your heating bill, small changes add up. The more steps you take to minimize energy costs, the more you’ll save this winter — despite the growing chill in the air.