By using the following strategies and reminders, it is possible to save energy during the cold winter months and stay warm!  Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.

* Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

* Cover Drafty Windows.  Install insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty.

* Adjust the Temperature. You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by turning your thermostat back 10-15 degrees when you are asleep or out of the house.  When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable (don’t forget to put on socks and sweaters – and add a few warm throws or quilts in the room where you hang out at tonight.)

* Find and Seal Leaks. Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings.  Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.

*  Maintain Your Heating Systems. Schedule service for your heating system to keep it operating efficiently. Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.

* Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.

*  Lower Your Water Heating Costs.  Water heating can account for 14%-25% of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.

Many of these suggestions you have probably heard before, but this may serve as a reminder – especially if you’re surprised by your first utility bills of the winter!