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4 tips to lower heating bills

By Paula Pant · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Posted: 7 am ET

Christmas cheer is over. Now it's just cold.

If you are busy paying off bills from the holiday season, the last thing you need are enormous heating bills. But at the same time, you want to be comfortable. Here are four tips for saving money on heating bills.

1. Program your thermostat

Buy a programmable thermostat, which you can get at a hardware store for about $20. Program the heat to drop by about 10 to 15 degrees when you go to work. Set the heat to come back up to "normal" temperatures about an hour before you arrive home.

You will save about eight hours of heating time per day, assuming you work full time. This can result in substantial savings, quickly paying off the cost of the thermostat.

2. Caulk, foam and weatherstrip

Install weatherstripping around doors. Caulk any gaps around doors and windows. Use a can of spray foam insulation around the holes in the wall that surround your bath sink and kitchen sink pipes.

Sealing these gaps prevents cold air from leaking into your house. It's also incredibly cheap. At one hardware store, a tube of caulk sells for as low as $2.30, weatherstripping sells for $2.50 and spray foam starts at $4.30.

3. Close your fireplace damper

Your fireplace damper (the hole that allows smoke and soot to rise up through the chimney) is effectively a giant hole in your house. Shutting the damper when you're not using the fireplace will allow more of your heat to stay inside the room.

Remember, always keep the damper open when a fire is burning. This reduces your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

4. Install storm windows

If you already have double-paned windows, you can ignore this tip. Double-paned windows help insulate your home by creating an "air pocket" between two sheets of glass.

If you have single-paned windows, though, cold air can pass through the sheet of glass, chilling your home. Either buy double-paned windows or install storm windows over your existing windows. Storm windows are the cheaper choice.

Depending on the number of windows in your home and prices in your area, installing storm windows will cost between several hundred to several thousand dollars. But it's cheaper than installing new windows, and it will eventually pay itself back in the form of reduced heating and cooling bills.

Paula Pant blogs at AffordAnything.com about creating wealth and living life on your own terms. She's traveled to nearly 30 countries, owns five rental units and works for herself. Follow Paula on Twitter @affordanything.

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