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The winter season is upon us, which means colder temperatures have taken over just about everywhere—officially.

While you may rely on heavy jackets, hats, and gloves to avoid the freezing cold outside, that’s not always the most comfortable way to live indoors. So , what can you do to keep the mittens off, and your home warm without raising your energy bill too high?

There are many proactive steps you can take now to ensure that the long winter months ahead don’t drain your savings from high energy costs. From cleaning vents and radiators, to using programmable thermostats, check out what you can do below, while helping to improve your overall home efficiency too.

  1. Plastic window treatments: Both old and new windows may benefit from the added protection of plastic window treatments. This DIY insulation is effective in providing a seal around the perimeter of your window to keep warm air in and cold air out. Depending on the size of your windows, this easy seasonal task may take just a few minutes.

    According to Build It Solar, bubble wrap has also risen in demand for maximizing home heating systems, and can be applied to your home’s windows in a similar manner with comparable results to common plastic window treatments.

  2. Clean vents, radiators, and baseboards: Dust builds up and prevents air from flowing freely throughout your home. Take some time to clean the heating sources for improved warmth and lower energy costs. Removing dust also provides relief to allergy sufferers in the home. Simple ensure that your heating sources are turned off before bringing out the liquid soap, buckets of warm water, scrubbing brushes, and old towels or sheets to provide a clean home environment that enables optimal heating in your home.
  3. Seal off unused rooms: Conserve energy and lower utility bills by closing off certain unused rooms in your home for the winter. Let your guest room or second living room take a break for the winter and save money in the process. Close heating vents, close the door, and place a door draft stopper in the gap that exists between the door and floor. It’s better taking the time to heat these rooms when needed, rather than all winter long!
  4. Leverage direct sunlight: Take advantage of the natural warming effect that direct sunlight has on a window and adjacent areas in the winter by keeping your curtains and blinds open accordingly. You should close them when the sun is hidden or is not consistently hitting your windows. Natural, direct sunlight may be hard to come by as we transition away from summer and Fall, but if you have it, use it! The sun’s heat can make an real impact on both your energy costs and spirits during the winter months.
  5. Invest in a programmable smart thermostat: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that consumers could save anywhere from 10-30% on heating and cooling bills with any number of smart thermostats that are currently on the market. Modern technology allows for optimal comfort and lower utility bills when you upgrade to a programmable thermostat. Stay connected to your home and schedule temperature changes based on your preferences. Keep the thermostat where you need it when you’re at home or away from the house to maintain safe, comfortable temperatures while saving money in the process.
  6. Dress warmly: This can be tough, we know. But, consider keeping the sweater and sweatpants handy when you’re home, so can keep the place a little cooler—spending a little less on heating overall. Strategically place flannel, fleece, and other warm materials around the home in the form of blankets, sheets, cushions, slippers, or other accessories. You can use these comfort items year after year to keep you bundled and cozy in the colder months.

Home energy costs often rise in the winter with the increased need for heating. When we needlessly crank up the thermostat, or ignore critical home repairs to ensure the cold stays out and warm air in, we pay the price—and so does mother nature. Any of the six tips above can help minimize both your energy use and costs—choosing to participate in renewable energy efforts and create a more sustainable world for all.

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