Winter is fast approaching, and along with the cold weather comes high heating bills. But it doesn’t have to be that way! To help you keep your energy costs as low as possible here are some solutions:

Energy Audit

The best way to approach this is to get an energy audit. This will show you how to conserve electricity, heating and hot water and get you on your way to making your home more energy efficient. You can find a professional auditor by contacting your local energy provider.

Home Temperature

Heating is one of the largest expenses in a home. By setting the thermostat to 20°C (68°F) while you’re home and turning it down while you’re asleep, at work, or away for long periods, you can save on your heating bills. If the thermostat is lowered 10 to 15 degrees for at least eight hours a day, your heating expense will reduce by about 5 to 15 percent a year. An easy way to control the temperature is by purchasing a programmable thermostat.

Reduce Air Leaks

You can cut heating costs by sealing up air leaks around windows and doors. Reducing drafts can save you from 5 to 30 percent each year. You can reduce the air leakage by caulking or weather-stripping where the leaks are located. Drafts can also be reduced by sealing gaps along the windows, doors, base-boards, edges of the floors, walls and ceilings. Air leaks may also be found in electrical outlets, fireplace dampers, attics or window and wall-mounted air conditioners.

Water Heating

Hot water usage accounts for 14 to 25 percent of energy bills. You can cut costs by purchasing an energy-efficient water heater. If you can’t do this, you can reduce hot water use by taking short showers or washing laundry with cold water. Other things you can do include lowering the water heater temperature and insulating the water tank and water pipes. Heat traps also can be installed on water tanks.

Windows, Doors and Skylights

Adding energy-efficient windows and doors will help improve the home’s energy costs. If this is not an option, you can use caulk or weather-stripping to prevent heat from escaping. Adding window treatments or coverings such as blinds, curtains or window shutters can also cut costs by reducing energy loss. Energy-efficient skylights help minimize energy use by providing natural daylight and warmth.

Landscape Windbreaks

Adding trees or shrubs around your home can help reduce wind chill and reduce heating costs. Planting shrubs, bushes and vines next to your home will help add insulation during both cold and warm seasons.

Home Appliances and Electronics

Another way to control energy costs is by turning off computers, televisions and other home electronic equipment when not in use. You can also reduce your energy bills by purchasing energy-efficient washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners.