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Tips to Save on Heating Bills this Winter

written by: Terrie Schultz•edited by: Lindsay Evans•updated: 9/18/2010

Here are some energy-saving ideas to cut down on home heating costs this winter.

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    To Lower Your Heating Bill, Turn Down the Thermostat

    Lowering the thermostat just a few degrees can make a big difference in your heating bill. It is estimated that heating bills can be decreased 3-4% or more for every degree the setting on the thermostat is lowered. Instead of keeping the house at 70 or 72 degrees, try setting the thermostat at 68 degrees. Turn down the thermostat even further at night. Setting it to 65 degrees or lower at night or when you are away from home will save even more.

    Programmable thermostats are very useful because they eliminate having to constantly remember to reset the thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can set it to a lower temperature at night or during the day when the house is unoccupied.

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    Prevent Heat Loss through Windows and Doors

    Windows are a significant cause of heat loss during the winter. The best solution is to replace old, single-pane windows with energy-efficient double-pane windows, but this is prohibitively expensive for many people. Here are some easy, inexpensive ways to help prevent heat loss through drafty windows and doors.

    Install weatherstripping to close gaps around windows and doors and prevent cold air from leaking through. There are a number of different types of weatherstripping, including self-adhesive foam strips, self-adhesive silicone, vinyl gaskets, and caulking. To seal the gap underneath doors, install plastic or metal doorsweeps or thresholds.

    Cover windows with plastic insulating film to keep heat in. The film adheres directly to the glass. It is inexpensive, simple to install, and can be removed in the spring when the weather gets warmer. An even less expensive solution is to simply cover windows with plastic sheeting and secure it with push pins, staples or tape.

    Install insulating window panels, which are even more effective than plastic film or sheeting to keep warm air in and cold air out. They consist of a wooden or aluminum frame and a clear plastic pane, and they are mounted on the inside of the window. Custom-fitting insulating panels can be purchased, but they are also simple to make by following these detailed instructions.

    Cover windows with heavy drapes or shades to further help prevent heat loss through windows. Open the drapes or shades during the day when the sun is shining through to capture some solar energy.

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    Maximize the Heating Efficiency of your Furnace

    Maximize the heating efficiency of your furnace by cleaning or replacing air filters regularly, and making sure the warm air supply registers are not covered by carpets, drapes or furniture.

    Have your heating ducts inspected to check that warm air is not escaping into attics, basements or exterior walls. Sealing the seams and covering ducts with insulation is an investment that will pay off in lowered heating bills.

    For more tips on saving heating costs, see this Mother Earth News article.

    Learn more about heating your home with renewable wood with Are Woodstoves Eco-Friendly?