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Lowering your heating costs and footprint on a budget

Using an electric blanket saves on heating costs.
Using an electric blanket saves on heating costs.Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Winter comes every year. It's never far away. Is your home winter ready? Even if you're on a strict budget there are things you can do to lower your heating costs and the resultant environmental footprint. Lowering your heating costs saves you money and saves the environment, too. The less energy we waste, the more there is to go around. Let's give our future generations a gift of resources by not being wasteful.

Keep it steady.

Keep your thermostat set at a constant temperature. Do not turn it up and down as this creates wear on your system, thus causing higher energy usage. Pick a temperature that is comfortable for you and leave it there.

Be selective with your heating.

Use space heaters in frequently used rooms and block off rooms that are unused. Close the doors to these areas. If you have no door put up drapes. Close heating vents in unused rooms as well. Be sure these areas do not contain pipes which could freeze and burst.

Use the sun for heat.

Drapes should be opened when the sun is shining to let in the warmth. Close them at night to hold in the heat. Do just the opposite in the summer to save on cooling costs and energy.

Fireplace maintenance:

Keep your fireplace damper closed when not in use. You may consider purchasing a draft stopper. This is an inflatable pillow which will seal off your chimney. Be sure to remove the pillow and open the damper before lighting a fire.

Budget draft stoppers:

Purchasing energy efficient windows is a pricey option. If you can't afford them and live in a very cold climate, you will want to cover your windows with plastic sealed with duct tape on the inside. This will keep out drafts. Seal any air leaks with caulking or weather stripping. Use draft stoppers on exterior doors.

Furnace maintenance:

*Keep your furnace well maintained. Have it checked by a professional before cold weather arrives. Change filters frequently. A dirty filter means your furnace has to work harder.

*Have your heating ducts cleaned on a regular basis. This will increase the efficiency of your furnace and keep your indoor air cleaner. Vacuum the exterior of your heat vents and radiators frequently.

Miscellaneous energy savers:

Closet and cupboard doors should be closed when not in use. There's no need to heat these areas.

Use your kitchen and bath exhaust fans only when necessary.

Use an electric blanket at night instead of turning the heat up.

Budget billing options:

Look into payment programs with your heating company. Some have plans where you are charged the same amount all year, based on average usage. This way you do not have a severe increase in your bill during cold months. You are credited for any overpayment.

Portions of this article were previously published on a now closed Yahoo property.