Did you know that heating and cooling systems often account for nearly half of all annual home energy costs? It might not be surprising, especially on those sweltering hot days and super chilly winter nights. When weather temperatures rise and fall to extremes, so can your utility bill! Not only is this negatively impacting your financials, but it’s also making a negative impact on the environment, too. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can help stay warm this winter while also conserving energy- and saving a few bucks!

1.) The first step in increasing efficiency is to find spots where you’re losing heat. Go through your home and seek out any drafts or air leaks. Solutions can be as simple as sliding a towel behind a door, or caulking up a loose window frame. Cracked or missing weather-stripping is a common cause for cold spots around doors and windows. Address these leaks and you’ll be well on your way to a warmer home!

2.) Don’t be afraid to adjust the thermostat. At night, consider lowering the temperature while you’re bundled up under blankets. Experiment over time, lowering the temperature a degree or two every night before you go to bed. You can even invest in a smart thermostat that lowers the temperature automatically at a certain time every day, and allows you to control it from anywhere using your phone. This can be especially helpful when you want to keep your home at a lower temperature when nobody’s there, but warm it back up while you’re on your way home.

3.) Maintain good airflow. Did you know that you can change what direction your ceiling fan spins? Hot air rises and if you reverse your fan’s blades to rotate in a clockwise direction, it will help push that warmth back down towards you. Ceiling fans typically have a switch on them which will allow you to make this change. Having good circulation is important to making the most of the warm air already in your home, and can also help reduce that stuffy feeling that homes can sometimes suffer during cooler months.

4.) Let the sun shine in. The sun is a spectacular source of heat! Best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime. Take advantage of the abundant warmth by opening your curtains and blinds during the day. You’ll also be getting lots of natural lighting: important, when it can so often feel like we’re stuck inside on cold days. Don’t forget to close them at night so you can prevent any cold chills from cooling your home down again.  Heavy duty curtains can be purchased especially for this purpose- just make sure your curtain rods are sturdy enough for the job.

5.) Minimize the area you’re actually heating. Close doors and vents in unused rooms. From guest rooms to storage areas, we all have spaces that we don’t use very often. But instead of wasting energy to heat areas of your home that are often uninhabited, close off all the vents and shut the doors. That way you can avoid having to pay extra for any unused space.  Alternatively, you could use a space heater to keep a single space extra toasty- for example, a bedroom or home office- while keeping the rest of the home at an overall cooler temperature. Just be sure you’re using space heaters safely!

6.) Inspect and replace your furnace filter. The beginning of the season is always a good time for basic maintenance of your heating or cooling systems. Before the winter weather arrives in full force, ensure your furnace filters are cleaned and reused or replaced entirely to help make sure your furnace is working properly.

7.) Bundle up! At the end of the day, one of the easiest things you can do to minimize your home’s energy usage in the colder months is by turning down the thermostat and bundling up with a few extra layers. So the next time you’re thinking about turning up the dial a few notches, consider putting on a pair of socks or a cozy sweater instead—it may save you a lot of money in the long run. Blankets can be a great addition to couches, to help make your living room extra cozy while you enjoy your favorite holiday movies.

Staying warm is important, and so is saving money! These are just a few of the ways you can help keep toasty and warm this season, without costing a fortune.