When you check your calendar and see October on the page, you know winter is just around the corner. Winter brings lots of fun things like skiing or shoe shoeing on bright, clear days or quiet family evenings in front of the fire.

Unfortunately, winter also brings some not-so-nice things, such as cold weather and long, dark nights that take lots of electricity and heat to get through comfortably. If you would like to save some energy around your home this winter, here are some ideas for you.


The Big Things: Ventilation, Insulation, and Weatherstripping

One sure way to save energy is to be sure your home heating system is working properly. Have a qualified HVAC professional check your furnace to be sure it's working properly and as energy-efficiently as possible.

Make sure the caulking and weather stripping around your doors and windows is intact and doesn't have any gaps or openings. Even a small draft around a window or door can let lots of expensive warm air escape from your home.

Adding some extra insulation to your attic is relatively inexpensive, easy to do, and will greatly reduce the cost of heating your home.


Sweat the Small Stuff

Cover the inside of your windows with clear-plastic-film window coverings (available at home and hardware stores). They will act like a second window and provide a barrier to keep in heat and block out any cold from coming through the window glass.

Adjust your programmable thermostat such that the temperature in your home is reduced at night or during the day when no one is in the house.

Close the damper on your fireplace, so hot air doesn't escape up the chimney. You can save even more energy by blocking off the opening with glass doors or even a installing a piece of decorated plywood to cover the opening.

Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans so they will pull air down from up close to your ceiling. Since hot air rises, the air at your ceiling is going to be warmer than at floor level.

Change your incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which use as little as 20% of the energy of an old-style incandescent bulb and have the added benefit of lasting up to five time longer.

During the winter, keep the humidity level in your home above 40%. Humidity levels lower than 40% will make you feel cold, tempting you to turn up the furnace. You can increase the humidity level in your home with a humidifier, or you can take advantage of the humidity you create in daily living. For example, don't turn on the exhaust fan when showering or cooking, so the steam from the hot water will stay inside.


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