Consider some no-cost ways to save energy/money this winter:
Adjust your thermostat
In addition to turning down your thermostat's typical setting to save, turn it down another 5 degrees at night or when leaving your home for an hour or more to save up to $70 on energy costs each year. If you buy a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the temperature settings automatically when sleeping or away. If you qualify to join Energy Partners, you can get a free one.
Adjust your hot water temperature
A setting of 120 degrees is recommended. If your temperature is more than 120, a 10-degree reduction can save 3 to 5 percent on water heating costs -- about $6 to $10 a year. If you buy a water heater blanket, you can reduce the energy needed to maintain hot water in the tank. View a video on how to check and adjust temperature.
Take advantage of sun
Open window coverings on south-facing windows to help warm your home and close window coverings in rooms that receive no direct sunlight to reduce window drafts. At night, close all window coverings to retain heat. Up to 15 percent of your heat can escape through uncovered windows.
Wash in cold water
Washing clothes in cold water can save about $40 a year with an electric water heater and about $30 a year with a gas water heater.
If you spend a little money, here are some additional ways to save:
Replace your furnace filter
Dirty filters reduce airflow and make equipment use more energy. Replace the furnace filter monthly during the heating season to reduce heating costs by up to 5 percent or about $35 a year. If you spend more, you can buy a high-efficiency filter that can last several months.
Install low-flow showerheads and faucets
Low-flow equipment can reduce hot water consumption as much as 10 percent -- about $6 per year for a sink aerator and $20 per year for a showerhead.
Change from incandescent to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)
CFLs cost more but save about $50 over the life of each bulb.
Weatherize your home
You can save up to 10 percent in heating and cooling costs by sealing cracks to the outside by weather-stripping doors, adding gaskets to outlets and switches on outside-facing walls and sealing windows and gaps along the foundation.
These measures require more investment but offer long-term return:
Adding insulation to the attic and unfinished basement walls and crawl spaces is an easy and cost effect project. Adding wall insulation is more complicated, so consult a contractor. Proper insulation and weatherization can save as much as 20 percent in heating and cooling costs.
Buy more efficient appliances
The growing number of appliances and electronics are becoming a larger part of energy bills. Next time you need a refrigerator, washer, dryer, furnace, TV, computer or other device, consider one with an ENERGY STAR® rating, which can save up to $75 a year compared to less efficient models.
Need more ideas? Check out our 101 energy tips.