Sure, everybody loves to be cozy this time of year, till the sticker shock of the energy bill sets in. But there ways to cut down the cost. Here are some tips to help make your energy use more efficient and your bills more affordable.

    INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT

    A programmable thermostat controls the temperature 24/7. Why heat the house the same all the time? Each degree you lower your thermostat for a period of at least eight hours — say, when you’re asleep or at work — can make your heating bill 1 percent cheaper. Resist the temptation to mess with the settings when you get chilly, lest you eat into the savings. Grab a sweater instead.  Ajax Heating & Air Conditioning can install programmable thermostats for you.

    GET IN THE ZONE

    If you are thinking of replacing your system with a new efficient furnace, also consider a zone system that lets you control different parts of the house independently. By not heating the portions of your home during low use times you can save additional money.

    REDUCE DRAFTS

    You can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills by covering up drafty windows and doors and sealing air leaks, according to the Department of Energy. A rolled-up towel is an easy and cheap way to stop a draft. Add weatherstripping around doors and window coverings like wood blinds and curtain can add an insulating element to windows. A more permanent way to cut down on drafts that enter the house through inefficient doors and windows is to replace them with new storm doors and windows. The savings in energy costs will help offset the investment in the long run

    MAINTAIN YOUR FURNACE

    Just like any other major appliance, a furnace needs regular tune-ups. Keeping it clean and properly adjusted helps it run efficiently and prolongs its lifespan. Dirty furnace filters can restrict airflow, making the heating system work harder, which in turn can boost your bill. Depending on the filter, they should be replaced every six months to a year. Keeping tabs on the furnace filter can also reduce medical bills. The more efficient the filter, the more allergens and debris it will catch and prevent from circulating in the air. And plan ahead, because you won’t be the only one calling for us a technician as the weather turns colder!

    TURN DOWN THE WATER HEATER

    The Simple Dollar points out that the standard setting for a hot water heater is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can lower energy costs 6 to 10 percent by lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, which is still plenty warm. Other options, such as a tankless or solar water heater, can reduce the cost of heating water even more but require an initial investment of at least several hundred dollars.

    USE CAULK AND WEATHERSTRIPPING

    Windows and doors aren’t the only spots where warm air leaks out of the house. Keep an eye out for places where two types of building materials meet — corners, chimneys, and around pipes and wires. These energy suckers can be plugged up with caulk and weatherstripping. To test for leaks, wave a stick of incense around the house and note the areas where the smoke wafts. You can also have someone walk around the outside of your home with a hair dryer near trouble areas such as windows. If a lit candle on the inside flickers or is extinguished, you have a leak.

    SEAL THE DUCTS

    The Energy Department estimates that most homes have 20-40% leakage from ducts, wasting energy and costing you money. 

    Following these tips can add up to big savings over time. So stay warm and happy – without breaking the bank.