As we head into the coldest months of the year, you may be among the homeowners thinking about how to save money on heating costs. Fortunately, there are steps most homeowners can take to make their furnaces more efficient, their homes better sealed and their heating bills more controllable.

Whether you're just looking for one or two easy changes or you're ready to pull out the big guns, you're sure to find some actionable advice below!

Easy Peasy

Turn down the thermostat. This is the simplest and most direct way to save on heating costs. Grab a sweater if you need to, but turning the thermostat down by just a single degree (and leaving it there) will make a difference you'll notice in your bills. According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent on climate control costs annually by adjusting the temperature 7 to 10 degrees from its usual setting for 8 hours per day.

Use an electric blanket. If you're planning to turn your thermostat down during sleeping hours, an energy-efficient electric blanket can help ease you off to dreamland. Place one on top of your bed and leave it on for 15 minutes before you get in. Then turn it off and climb inside. The warmth will last while you fall asleep.

Use the sun. During the day, keep blinds and curtains open on sun-facing windows. Never turn down free heat!

The Next Step

Tune up your furnace. Ideally, you should do this every year. The cleaning and instrument adjustments can make a real difference in your furnace efficiency, and a tune-up is the best way to catch small problems before they turn into big, expensive ones.

Seal your drafts. You can find drafts around your home with a handheld draft detector or even a lit candle -- just walk around slowly and wait for the breeze to disturb the flame. Where you find drafts, repair them by replacing weather stripping or using spray foam insulation.

Use a space heater. If you'll be in one area of the home for a while, you can save energy by keeping your immediate area warm with a space heater and turning the thermostat down for the rest of the house.

Big Changes

Upgrade your furnace. If your furnace is 10 years old or older, planned replacement is likely to be the way to achieve the biggest gains in your home heating energy efficiency. Talk to your local HVAC professional about your options and how much you could save.

Replace your attic insulation. The insulation in your attic floor is one of your greatest lines of defense against heat loss. But over time, this insulation can break down and lose volume. Stick a tape measure through the insulation to the attic floor -- if you have fewer than 12 inches, it's time for replacement.

Conduct a home energy audit. In this type of inspection, a home energy professional searches for every air leak and source of energy inefficiency using state-of-the-art technology. It's an extensive test that produces a detailed report of the steps you can take to maximize your household energy efficiency.

For help with these steps or any others, don't hesitate to reach out to your local HVAC experts.

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