20 Ways to Save Money on Heat this Winter

January 18, 2011; 9:01 AM
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Many homeowners will have to deal with big heating bills this winter. But there is good news. Those bills are not expected to contain the huge price hikes-23 percent for heating oil and 18 percent for natural gas-predicted earlier this year. A slowed economy has driven down some prices.

But, no matter how low the prices, there are ways to reduce your fuel bills even more. Renovate Your World has 20 suggestions.

1. Schedule an energy audit. Look for a reputable inspector with high-tech equipment who can determine whether there is enough insulation in the right places and if there are any air leaks. An audit typically includes a prioritized list of remedies and estimated savings. Check for auditors through state home energy programs or through RESNET, an industry not-for-profit membership corporation, which offers an online rater directory. Many communities offer free energy audits, too, so contact your town hall for more information. For more information about energy audits, see "Four Fixes to Stop Home Energy Leaks."

2. Don't heat unused rooms. Close the registers, draw the drapes and shut the door. Provide just enough heat to those rooms to prevent frozen water pipes during frigid weather.

3. Let the Sun shine in. On bright winter days, the Sun's low angle brings light streaming into your south-facing windows along with free solar heat. Close drapes at night and keep them closed on blustery, gray days. Consider insulated drapes or curtains. Make sure drapery and furniture don't block heat vents.

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