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Ready, Set, Winterize!

Since home heating makes up a significant portion of a utility bill, it is a sensible area of focus for energy efficiency improvements and savings. In fact, many of the actions you can take to be more energy efficient can pay for themselves over time. The Energy Education Council has tips to help you make energy-efficient choices now to help you decrease your monthly utility bill this winter.

Make a habit of cleaning your furnace annually in the fall months. Removing a season of built-up debris (especially if you have pets) can reduce the fire risk and make your furnace run more efficiently.

Also, remember to replace your furnace filter during the winter. Replacing a dirty filter will increase the air flow and make your home more energy efficient (with the added benefit of cleaner air in your home).

If it is time to replace the furnace itself, look for energy-efficient models. Furnaces with an Energy Star rating usually exceed federal standards for energy efficiency and can make choosing the right model that much easier. Installing an energy-efficient furnace can reduce your energy consumption and the cost of heating your house.

Check your home for air leaks. You can use the following method to check for them. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick or smoke pen next to anywhere you think a leak may be (usually windows, doors, attic hatches, or any other opening to the outside). If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have found an air leak.

There are a variety of actions you can take to plug the leak, depending on its location. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends the following steps:

  • Caulk and add weather stripping to doors and windows that leak air.
  • Use foam sealant on larger gaps around windows, baseboards, and other places where air may leak out.
  • Replace door bottoms and thresholds with ones that have pliable sealing gaskets.
  • Keep the fireplace flue damper tightly closed when not in use.

When you are away from home or sleeping, turning the thermostat down a few degrees in cold weather months can also help reduce your monthly utility bill. For an even more hassle-free option, install a programmable thermostat that can automatically make the adjustments for you.

For more information on energy efficiency as well as electrical safety, visit

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