1. Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat will ensure you never go to bed or leave home with the heat blasting again. For maximum savings, set the temperature at 66° F or below during down times and no more than 72°F when you’re home.
2. Open up curtains. Inviting natural sunlight into the house will provide ambient heat which may help you delay turning up the thermostat. Be sure to close the curtains when the sun goes down.
3. Check the insulation in the attic. As a standard, all homes should have between R-22 and R-49 of attic insulation. Colder climates may require more. Not only will insulation keep energy bills down, it may prevent costly ice dams that damage the roof and gutters.
4. Unsealed leaks are like having a window open all the time. Check for cracks around windowsills, baseboards, vents and anywhere a fixture pokes through to the outside of the house. Once you’ve located the leaks, use a simple tube of inexpensive caulking to seal them properly.
5. Maintain the HVAC system as needed. A new furnace is expensive, and so is one that doesn’t work properly. Keep yours running efficiently with an annual tune-up from a professional. Proper maintenance can also extend the life of a unit by several years. And don’t forget to replace the furnace filters every three months or sooner.
6. Turn off unused lights. Darker, shorter days mean more time with the lights on, but lighting up an empty room is a waste of energy and money. Consider putting lights on timers or installing motion-activated sensors if the folks in your house can’t remember to flip the switch.
If you've tried most of these ideas and you're still frustrated with your utility bills, consider having an energy audit. You can schedule an audit through your local utility company. An audit isn't free, but it's a good investment, and you may qualify for rebates.
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