Take steps to save money this winter

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012

By Dana Zeliff

The leaves are starting to fall, and the weather has begun to turn colder. Another sure sign of fall — the cost of heating your home will start to increase over the next several months.

Don’t let cold weather bust your budget. Get proactive with these inexpensive money-saving solutions.

  • If you’re not already on the budget plan for your utilities such as gas and electric, you should look into the option. The budget plan allows you to avoid seasonal fluctuations, so you don’t get a surprise bill one month. The monthly budget bill amount is based on an average of your usage.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans to run clockwise at a low speed to help push warm air down.
  • Turn your thermostat down a degree each day until you find your optimal temperature. You will likely be comfortable at a cooler temperature than you may think. You should save about 3 percent on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat. Can you tell a difference between 70 degrees and 67 degrees?
  • Check your house for air leaks. Seal cracks around windows with caulk and add weather-stripping or door sweeps to exterior doors.
  • Schedule an appointment to have your chimney inspected and cleaned if you have a wood-burning fireplace. Make sure to keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Use sunlight to help warm a room by opening the curtains to take advantage of direct sunlight. Just make sure to close the curtains when the sun is no longer shining in.
  • Clean or change your filters to keep your heating system running efficiently. Filters get clogged with dust and dirt, so changing them frequently will help with your heating bill and air quality.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to turn the heat down at night when you are sleeping and while you are away for extended periods of time during the day.

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Follow these simple tips and you can save big on your energy bill this winter.

Dana Zeliff lives in Chesapeake and writes a blog full of money-saving tips, coupons and advice. Visit her blog at www.thecouponchallenge.com.