Brace for the cold

Stay cozy indoors this fall and winter without sending your energy bills soaring. Here’s how:

  • Tape heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets to the inside of the frames of draft windows. Or purchase drapes or shades that fit snugly into the window frame.
  • Lower the thermostat by 10 or 15 degrees for eight hours a day to save up to 10 percent on heating and cooling bills. Try it overnight or while you’re at work all day. Or install a programmable thermostat that will automatically set itself back at the times you want.
  • Lower the dial on the water heater to 120 degrees. Heating water accounts for 18 percent of the energy your home uses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Scour the house for gaps around plumbing pipes, and cables for TVs, routers and landlines, where cold air can get into the house and heated air can escape. Caulk or weatherstrip those gaps, and around doors and windows.
  • Close the damper to your wood-burning fireplace when you’re not burning wood in it. Better yet, avoid using it. Those old fireplaces suck the warm air right out of a room and send it outdoors.