When it’s cold and windy, the cold has a way of creeping into our homes through cracks around our doors and windows, poorly insulated attics and walls, our heating ductwork and other energy-inefficient areas.

Many react to the prospect of higher energy bills by looking for ways to conserve and bundling up with an extra layer of clothing or blanket. Others are victims of poorly insulated homes and unaware of the right ways to try to reduce their energy use. Simply raising the thermostat can lead to high electric bills without comfortably heating your home.

Take steps to reduce the amount of electricity you use and save money during cold months. Saving energy can lead to big savings on your utility bill.

Low-cost preparations

  • Caulk and weatherstrip around windows and doors to stop air leaks. Seal any gaps in floors and walls around pipes and electrical wiring.
  • Change filters monthly. Install a “filter whistle” to let you know when to change them.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs.
  • Repair air leaks and seal and insulate heating system ductwork. Add insulation to your attic, crawl space and any accessible exterior walls. Add pipe insulation to first 5 feet of water pipe coming from your water heater. Install light switch and electrical outlet seals on exterior walls.
  • Wrap your water heater with insulation or install an insulating blanket.
  • Install an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat appropriate for your type of heating system and set it at 68°F for heating.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when replacing large or small appliances.
  • Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads and repair leaky faucets.
  • Use power strips for home electronics, and turn off power strips when equipment is not in use. TV’s and DVD players still use electricity when powered down.

No-cost practices

  • Turn down your heating system’s thermostat to 68°F. Turn it down even lower if no one is home for several days.
  • Lower your water heater temperature to 120°F and reduce hot water use by taking shorter showers and using cold water for laundry whenever possible.
  • Turn off lights, televisions and computers when not in use.
  • Remove and recycle your second refrigerator.
  • Keep curtains open on the south side of the house and closed on the north side during the day.
  • Clean refrigerator coils and set the temperature to 36° to 39°F and the freezer to 0° to 5°F.
  • Make sure the fireplace damper is closed when not in use. Don’t send warm air up the chimney.
  • Match the size of your pot or pan to the size of stove burner and cover them with lids when cooking.