It takes a lot of energy to heat your home during winter. In fact, the average annual household heating bill in places like New England and the Northeast can amount to not hundreds, but thousands of dollars. How can you save on your next statement? Make simple lifestyle changes—and take the necessary steps to protect your interior and exterior.

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In the list below, we’ll explain the best ways to minimize your winter heating bill. With these easy tips in mind, you will increase your household’s energy efficiency while padding your holiday budget. As an added bonus, your family will feel more comfortable—and you’ll check another task off your seasonal to-do list.

  • Keep the Heat Inside

The more heat you keep inside your home, the less hard your furnace has to work. Start by keeping your curtains and blinds open during the day, especially when the sun is at its highest. Once the light begins to fade, close your window coverings to preserve the warmth. Since up to 30 percent of household heat is lost through windows, it’s smart to invest in the right window treatments. The best window coverings to keep the heat in and the cold out include cellular shades, which are made of several innovative cell pockets. These features help to trap warm air and insulate your home with comfort.

To preserve your indoor air temperature, consider durable and affordable faux wood blinds. For maximum energy efficiency, have your treatments custom made. This will ensure the proper fit.

Additionally, a simple way to trap heat indoors includes applying new caulk and weatherstripping to drafty windows and doors.

  • Install a Smart Heating System

State of the art heating systems make it easier than ever to save on your winter energy bill. Start by considering a smart thermostat, which quickly and efficiently warms your house to the ideal temperature. Control ambient air in each room from your smartphone. Turn the heat down when you go to work or head out for vacation. When you’re almost home, click a button to raise the  temperature again.

Since smart thermostats are now so popular, you can purchase many of the best products for an affordable price. The investment is not only helpful to your long term savings. It’s also an excellent selling point if you decide to put your home on the market. Another option is to invest in a zoned comfort system. Instead of letting your standard HVAC system work hard to heat your entire home, you can install separate wall-mounted units in each room. No ductwork is required and everyone can heat their space at their ideal temperature. If you’re not using the basement or a guest room, simply turn the unit off and watch for the savings on your monthly bill.

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  • Invest in Extra Layers

Instead of raising the temperature on your thermostat, you can decide to dress warmer. An extra sweater and a thick pair of socks will keep you cozy no matter how cold it is outside. Plush quilts and electric blankets also provide a toasty feel despite the sleet or snow. A luxurious robe will make it less uncomfortable to get out of the shower, while flannel pajamas and sheets enhance peaceful sleep.

Don’t forget to add extra layers to your interior, too. If you have hardwood or laminate, place an area rug on top. The rich material will help trap heat and feels great on your feet. Drape a few blankets on the back of your couch or on the arm of each lounge chair. While serving as seasonal accents, they’ll also make your living room more inviting for guests.

  • Add More Insulation

While quality insulation lasts for many years, the material can easily become damaged due to excess moisture. To ensure you’re keeping all of the heat indoors, have an attic insulation inspection each year before winter arrives. The task is routine and many companies will do it for free.

If the technician finds you need more, consider completing the project as soon as possible. While new insulation is affordable, it’s also an effective strategy for lowering your heating bill. Depending on your skill level, you may even be able to DIY. Extra perks include better indoor air quality and increasing the life of your furnace, which will benefit your family for years to come.

  • Switch Out the Furnace Filter

Furnace filter replacements are also highly affordable. For only a few dollars, you’ll cut down on your utility bill and heat your home even faster than before. While the standard filters are cheap, the experts recommend a high-efficiency product. These upgrades still cost less than a lunch entrée at your favorite restaurant and will help to trap dust and common indoor allergens, such as dust mites and pet hair.

An HVAC professional will be happy to make the switch. However, you can also complete the swap yourself. All you have to do is locate the filter on your furnace, take it out and put the new product in the same direction as the previous model. Best of all, many of the high-end pleated models will last the entire winter.

  • Be Strategic About Using Fans

Household fans can help to make your home warmer. They can also suck the hot air out of a room. Keep your interior energy efficient by minimizing the use of bathroom and kitchen fans. These vent fans work to lift smoke, smells and excess heat from your living spaces, but they will also cause your furnace to work harder.

Run your ceiling fans counterclockwise to ensure warm air returns to the ground. Otherwise, they’ll just make you chilly and remove the heat from your living room and bedrooms. Review your fan’s owner’s manual for more information.

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  • Lower Your Water Temperature

Hot water is a relaxing and indulgent delight during the depths of winter. It’s also one of the quickest ways to raise your heating bill. A little home preparation goes a long way. Before it gets too cold, set your water heater at 120 degrees. Energy efficiency experts say you don’t need your water any warmer for cooking, cleaning or bathing.

Save even more by minimizing baths. Instead, take short showers. While you’re washing up, lower the water temperature so it’s mild yet comfortable. While helping to wake you up in the morning, it’ll also maximize your water heater savings.

It’s Easy to Cut Your Winter Heating Bills

Many homeowners find they’ve already been practicing many of these hacks and tips. Don’t forget to put them into play again this winter. Other interesting tricks include leaving the oven door open after baking, getting festive with seasonal clothing and keeping the fireplace going as often as possible.

No matter which way you choose to lower your heating costs, now is the time to start. Have your inspections, projects and supplies purchased before the cool air and heavy snow get here. Once it gets frigid, all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy your comfortable home.