This week I saw the first snowflakes of the season. While the snowboarder in me was excited, the frugalista was dreading the higher energy bills. My roommates and I have done fairly well at conserving this fall; we only turned the heat on a couple of nights to take the chill off the house. Unfortunately, Chicago winters are nearly unbearable with heat, let alone without it.

As with everything else, there are a few things that you can do to save yourself money on heating costs (and they don’t include giving in to hypothermia).

  1. Bundle Up. Perhaps the most obvious tip is simply to wear a couple more layers around the house. We have blankets on every couch and big chair in our house and put throw rugs and carpets on all of the hardwood floors. This way we can keep the house a couple degrees cooler, without really noticing it at all.

  2. Check your windows. Without thinking about it, you are probably letting a good amount of hot air out of your house through gaps near windows and doors. There are window kits that you can buy to close any gaps, or you could do what my roommate does. She had bubble wrap from a care package and used it to cover windows that we don’t use for light. This acts as another layer of insulation (although it does look a little silly).

  3. Only heat the parts of your home that you are using. Keep your main thermostat at a reasonable temperature (low- to mid-sixties, for me), and keep space heaters in the rooms that you hang out in. So if you have central heating (or forced air), keep that cooler than you think you need and keep a space heater in the living room. For the most part, when you are in bed or in the kitchen you will not need additional heat, because you will be bundled up or cooking (which also heats up the house).

  4. Maintain heating systems. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, we should be getting our heating systems checked to make sure there are no blockages in flues (if you have a fireplace) and find out if there is any inefficiency in your heating system. For the most part, if you look up your specific heating system, you can find out what type of maintenance may be necessary. Finally, don’t forget about your furnace filters; they should be replaced once a month to keep air flowing correctly and keep the air going through your house clean.

This winter, we will be utilizing all of these tricks to make sure we stay warm while saving some money. How do you keep your heating costs low?

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