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Tips to stay toasty — and save on your heating bills

A programmable thermostat will help save up to

A programmable thermostat will help save up to 10 percent on your bill, according to Jeff Wilson, author of "The Greened House Effect." Credit: Photos.com/Photos.com

There’s a chill in the air, a sure sign that winter is on the way. Heating bills can take a big bite out of your budget if you’re not careful.

Here’s how to stay warm without going broke.

  • Strategize: Get on a budget plan with your utility company. You’ll pay the same amount each month, regardless of increased usage during winter. “After 12 months, you will be given credit towards your utility bill if you haven’t used all of the commodity assumed, and in reverse, if you have used more, the utility company will bill you based upon the average,” says Phil Van Horne, CEO of Blue Rock Energy in Syracuse.
  • Clean or change filters regularly: A dirty furnace or dryer vent will slow down air flow and make the system, and your heater, work harder to keep the home warm.
  • Go for easy fixes: Adding DIY insulation is probably the cheapest and most practical way to save energy. Use caulk or weatherstrips to seal air leaks around windows and doors. “Close doors and vents in underused rooms. Every room you close off is another room you aren’t paying for,” says Jonathan Deesing, a home energy specialist with SolarPowerAuthority.com.
  • Reduce the set heat of your water heater. “Typical water heaters are set to 140 degrees; a reduction of just 10 degrees can save hundreds of dollars a year,” he adds.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. “By setting the temperature down while you’re sleeping or at work — by at least 10 degrees over eight hours — you can save up to 10 percent on your heating bills,” says Jeff Wilson, author of “The Greened House Effect.”

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