coldguyWintertime is not only the most challenging season of the year, it can also be the most expensive. With people using their home heating systems to the max, the heating costs can rise as easily as the temperatures in the house. Here are some tips to help keep your house warm during the winter and also keep yourself calm, cool and collective when the heating bill arrives in the mail.

1.) Turn Down the Thermostat: The first and best idea for saving money on your heating bill during the cold winter months is to turn down the thermostat to 68 degrees. Doing this will save about five percent on your heating bill and, from personal experience, 68 degrees is warm enough to keep you nice and toasty in the winter.

2.) Energy Efficient Doors, Windows and Roofs: Installing energy efficient windows and doors is an investment that can pay big dividends over the years, lowering heating costs and adding resale value to your home. Brands such as the Infinity line by Marvin keepenergy_efficient_windows warm air in and cold air out of the house, as well as lowering summer cooling costs. Energy efficient doors, windows or roofs qualify for an energy tax credit of $1500, making the investment even more attractive.

3.) Let the Sun Shine In: Not all winter days are dark and cloudy, there are days when the sun does come out to shine. Open up the curtains and shades in your house to let the sun in, doing this will help your house warm up in the natural way.

4.) Rearrange the Furniture: Rearranging the furniture in your home is another great way to help you save money on heating. Rearrange the furniture so that it doesn’t sit near drafty windows will help keep you warm as you lounge on your favorite seat and you won’t need to turn up the heat.

5.) Don’t Light the Fireplace: As good an idea as it sounds and how picturesque it may be, fireplaces are actual counterproductive in keeping houses warm. Fireplaces can actually suck heat from the house and shoot it up out of the chimney along with your money. So don’t fall for the picture on your Christmas cards, keep your fireplaces as dark as the night. An alternative to making your place homey would be an electric fireplace, a gas log fireplace or a wood burning stove.

6.) Limit Shower Usage: Showers are a great way to warm yourself up when you feel a chill to the bones. However, you don’t want your heating bill to go down while your water bill goes up. That’s why it’s a good idea to time yourself during showers or buy a low flow shower head.

7.) Have Your Furnace Inspected: Having your furnace inspected by a professional ensures a clear and thorough report on whether or not a new furnace or a cleaning of the pipes is needed. Dirty filters can make your furnace work harder on heating your house, which will result in it being over tired in its efforts and it will probably go on strike and form a picket line with other disgruntled furnaces. Probably not, but it’s a good idea to make sure your furnace is cleaned once in a while to prevent complications in the future.

8.) Seal Older Windows and Doors: Windows and doors do a great job of keeping unwanted intruders (like burglars, raccoons and mockingbirds) from entering your home. Sometimes, however, they can fail us in keeping cold air from entering the house. It is important to know how long ago the windows and doors were installed and seal the creases with protective caulk. This is also a good idea for pipes or vents, or anything that comes out of the wall with openings around it. Putting plastic or a towel in the crease at the bottom of the door is a good way to keep cold air out.

9.) Buy an Electric Heater: One of the main concerns of saving on energy during the winter is the use of fossil fuels. That’s why you may want to think about switching to alternate forms of energy, like electricity, or at least cut down on oil and gas use. Turn down the furnace and add electric space heaters, available at most home improvement stores for $30-$90. Today’s heaters are safe, convenient and can do a wonderful job of heating individual rooms.

10.) Use Your Ceiling Fans: Now here’s an interesting fact that even surprised me. Ceiling fans can actually help in warming up the room. By switching the blades to go in the clockwise direction, the heat stored up in the ceiling will be pushed down into the room. This can be done by flipping the switch on a ceiling fan’s cylinder. If you need more help, try calling the company that makes the ceiling fans and ask them how to change the direction of the blades.

Winter is the hardest season of the year with its blizzards, safety precautions and, of course, keeping warm without spending a fortune on heating bills. Armed with these tips, you will be prepared for whatever wild card the harsh winters throw at you. By following these steps, the only thing that will be cold in your house will be the piles of cold, hard cash saved for a nice vacation during the summertime.