Although autumn is my favorite time of year it does mean that winter is looming in the not too distant future. That means it is time to prepare your home for winter in such a way to avoid any unnecessary expenses. After all, even a lower utility bills is more than we want to see.

By being proactive and planning ahead you will be able to save quite a bit on your heating expenses. Naturally you want to start with your furnace or other heating source. Insure that it is both safe and functional.

Before the temperatures drop you should check all duct work and registers. It is important that the registers are clean and unobstructed in order to allow for a clear airflow. A clean filter is also a vital component when your goal is efficiency and maximum airflow.

Be sure to check out your thermostat. It should be in a location that does not receive drafts and it should not be near a heat source. Programmable thermostats allow you to automate lowering the temperature at night while you sleep and when you are away at work.

By lowering the setting by one degree you can realize a savings of up to three percent in your energy costs.

The last step in your thermostat preparation is that of testing the system for even distribution of heat. Turn on the heat for a few hours and walk through your home.

If you find hot spots or cold spots you will need to adjust both the thermostat as well as the venting on the registers. You should decrease the airflow in the hot spots and increase it in the cold spots.

Another suggestion is to simply close of registers and doors to any unused rooms in your home. Since heat rises it is a good idea to have ceiling fans that can push that heat back down into the livable area of the rooms.

Check around doors and windows for drafts. You may need to use a fan to be more precise in this check. Add weather-stripping where needed around doors and caulk around windows. If you now have screens in your windows you will probably want to switch them out for glass replacements. Storm doors and windows can decrease heat loss while helping to retain existing heat.

Close curtains or drapes at night. That will help to cut the heat loss through your windows. I also suggest that you use rolled towels to place at the bottom of doors.

Check around any light switches or outlets on walls that are on the perimeter of your home. If you can feel airflow you will need to tend to that problem. A quick and free fix is to cut a piece of Styrofoam (from a piece that you get from meat packaging) to fit the area. Cut out any sections needed and use that to cover the area. Then simply replace your cover.

Set your hot water temperature to 120 degrees. If you have a dishwasher you may want to set it at 140 degrees.

Insulation can make a big difference in the energy needed to heat a home. A minimum of R-30 insulation in ceilings or attics is recommended.

Ovens use a lot of energy so use yours wisely. Although recipes almost always advise pre-heating an oven it usually is not really necessary. If you pre-heat at all only allow a few minutes to pass before you add your dish to the oven.

Keep the oven door closed during your cook time in order to conserve the heat. And cook more than one dish at a time. When you are finished with the oven leave the door slightly ajar in order to allow that heat to escape into your home. Slow cookers can be wonderful alternatives to oven use as can a microwave. Both appliances use much less energy than ovens.

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