Bottom Line: Tips on saving money this winter

Consumer Reports: How to save money in the winter

(WMC/CONSUMER REPORTS) - As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling it. This winter, Consumer Reports has some tips to keep the heat in your house and some money in your wallet.

For easy energy savings, turn down your thermostats either manually or using smart or programmable ones. Then dial the temperature back by 10 to 15 degrees F whenever you’re away from the house for a long period of time.

Next, keep warm air inside with weatherstripping and draft blockers around doors and windows. Use caulk or expandable foam sealant to fill bigger openings around windows. And insulated outlet covers keep drafts out for just pennies apiece.

Don’t waste money heating crawl spaces and other unused parts of your house. Uninsulated ductwork does just that, but it’s worth hiring a pro to wrap ducts with insulation.

Dirty furnace filters reduce airflow and can lead to pricey repairs. So during the cold season, check your furnace or heat pump filters monthly.

An inefficient furnace or boiler uses more energy to work harder. It’s worth hiring a pro to come once a year to tighten electrical connections, inspect valves, and lubricate moving parts, all of which will help the system work more smoothly.

A wood-burning fireplace can keep you toasty, but over 90% of the heat it generates can go out the chimney—along with heated air from the room. Consider retrofitting it with a more efficient gas insert or with an EPA-certified wood fireplace insert.

Those drafty spots around the house really can be a money waster. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if you added up all the cracks and gaps in a typical home, the energy loss would be the same as having one window open all the time. So get that weatherstripping in!

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