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10 energy-efficient hacks to slash your heating bill this winter

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After braving yet another bitterly cold day, getting home to find a heating bill in the mail can almost feel like salt in the wound. However, keeping the cost of utilities low during the winter months doesn’t have to be painful. Here are 10 simple and economical ways to stop drafts and save cash this season:

1. Put draft stoppers under doors

Also called door snakes, these stop cold air from seeping in under doors. You can even make them yourself by filling scrap fabric with dried beans or rice.

2. Install weather stripping around doors

For doors that are frequently in use, installing weather stripping around all edges may be a better bet than using a draft stopper. For the bottom of the door, attach a vinyl-and-pile strip or, alternately, repurpose pipe insulation cut lengthwise to create a draft guard.

3. Seal air leaks in ductwork

While leaks in ducts may be more difficult to locate than drafts along windows and doorways, the payoff will be huge. According to Energy Star, holes and poorly connected ducts are responsible for the loss of about 20 to 30 percent of air. Common spots to find and fix leaks are where registers meet the floors, walls and ceiling.

4. Wrap your windows in plastic

While not the classiest of looks, this age-old solution will help create a layer of insulation between your window and the outdoors. You can also stop air from escaping—and cold air from getting in—by applying caulking to any cracks along your windowsills.

5. Use curtains to your advantage

If plastic wrap isn’t your thing, insulated curtains may be a better solution. Let passive solar heating work its magic by opening them to let sunlight in during the day. Once the sun sets, close them again to retain heat.

6. Reverse your ceiling fan’s direction

If your ceiling fan has a winter setting, switch it on. Since heat rises, having your fan rotating clockwise at a low setting may help to push the hot air back down.

7. Close doors to rooms that aren’t frequently in use

By closing the vents and doors of vacant rooms, you’ll ensure that your furnace is only circulating warm air where it’s needed. You can also shut the door of the room that you’re in to trap the warmth—including your own body heat—in.

8. Lay down carpets

While hardwood looks beautiful, it may be worth rolling out carpets during the winter months, since up to 10 percent of a home’s heat can be lost through un-insulated wooden floors.

9. Limit the amount of wood-burning fires

It might sound counterintuitive, but your fireplace may actually be cooling your home. As hot air gets pushed up the chimney, cold air will be pulled into your house elsewhere due to the “stack effect.” Make fires a special treat and be sure to close the flue when you’re done.

10. Bake a casserole

Preparing comfort food serves a dual purpose; not only will it warm you up, it will also warm your house up.

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Winter fire hacks

Noteworthy fireplaces

How to elevate your campfire experience