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Furnace WorkWinter is coming. Unless you live in a temperate climate, you should be preparing your home (and yourself) for a season of frigidity and intense coldness. Of course, you could crank up the heat, burn a few scented candles and live inside the real-life equivalent of a fresh-baked cinnamon roll for four months, but that’s not the recommended course of action.

Turning up your thermostat to higher temperatures feels good in the short term, but when the monthly heating bill comes, the euphoria always dissipates. So, how do you keep your home warm and comfortable while not forking over huge payments to the energy companies? Here are five important tips to keep in mind for reducing your heating bill in the winter.

Lower your thermostat by a few degrees.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reports that by every degree you lower your home, you save around 3% on your heating bill. Those numbers add up, so try substantially lowering the temperature, especially when no one’s home. This will save you both money and plenty of heartache when the bill finally comes at the end of the month. Plus, it helps to look into the different types of heating thermostats to find the most efficient units.

Use ceiling fans to your advantage.

Try switching your overhead fans to clockwise motion in order to spread the heat around evenly in a room. This air current creates an updraft, which helps warm each room with the heated air from your system because of how heat rises. Of course, it takes additional energy for the fan to operate, but the cost of this likely won’t offset your efforts of reducing your heating bill in the winter.

Keep your vents clear.

Obviously, a vent blocked by household clutter or covered in dust or debris will not operate at its highest airflow potential. That means your system will have to work harder — costing more money — without actually yielding a warmer home. The same thing is true of any air conditioning duct cleaning, too. Keeping the area clear significantly increases the efficiency of the unit.

Use your curtains and blinds.

In other words, keep the sun in and the coldness out. When the sun shines directly in a room, open the blinds to let in its natural warmth; once it disappears, close them up to keep out the cold. Additionally, storm windows or even plastic film on regular windows can ward off drafts from entering into your home.

Prevent heat from escaping.

The hard part is transforming the stagnant air into warmth, so once it’s been done, do everything in your power to prevent it from escaping. Keep doors and windows closed, close fireplace flues and turn off any kitchen and bathroom ventilation fans. Also, just as choosing the right air conditioning air filter is important, picking the most energy-efficient heating filter can save you big money in the long run.

Reducing your heating bill in the winter really begins with a simple decision: Can you live with more layers, or is the freedom of a short-sleeved t-shirt worth the extra hundred dollars at the end of the month? Remember to be practical with your home heating concerns and be creative with your solutions. And when it comes to reducing your cooling bill in the summer, keep the same ideas in mind.

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