Easy ways to save energy and money during cold months

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(BPT) - It's an unfortunate case of cause and effect: As temperatures drop, thermostats go up, along with your utility bill. Homeowners nationwide know that it can be expensive to keep a home comfortable during cold weather. What's more, with the whole family at home working and studying remotely, you're probably using more energy than ever.

Staying comfortable and productive doesn't have to mean a sky-high utility bill. There are some simple steps you can take to heat your home efficiently to save money, energy and resources.

Step 1: Eliminate drafts and zone heat as needed

Even small leaks from windows and doors can let out a large amount of heat, causing your furnace to work harder to keep spaces comfortable. For old or drafty windows, you can get affordable window insulation kits at your local home improvement store. For doors, foam or rubber weather stripping can make a big difference.

Not sure where the leak is? Safely hold a flame near the window or door frame. If it moves in one direction, this is an indication of the area of concern. If it doesn't move, the area is sealed appropriately. Another option is to hold incense around seams as a draft will pull the smoke in its direction.

By eliminating heat loss, you save energy and money. Now, consider the best ways to heat your home to eliminate waste. Zone heating means heating in the areas of the home that are being used. For example, if you have a spare bedroom not currently being occupied, close the door and the vents to that space so the heat is pushed through the ventilation system elsewhere.

Step 2: Go beyond programmable and get a smart thermostat

Saving energy is the biggest reason people consider upgrading from a programmable thermostat, and the new Nest Thermostat can help find ways to save that aren’t possible with your traditional one. Plus, the Nest Thermostat is easy to install, making it a simple weekend DIY project that adds sleek design to any space.

Using the Google Home app, you can access Quick Schedule to set custom temperatures at different times and on different days. It even offers suggested pre-set temperatures that balance comfort and energy savings. Additionally, the smart technology through the Savings Finder feature looks for small optimizations that can help you save energy in your home. For example, it may suggest a small change to your temperature setting at night to help aid sleep while saving on energy.

In addition to helping maximize comfort and efficiency, the Nest Thermostat helps provide peace of mind by monitoring eligible heating and ventilation systems and alerting you to potential issues via the app or email so you can take action and potentially avoid big energy waste or expensive problems. Learn more, including which HVAC systems are compatible, at store.google.com and check out energy rebates from your energy provider to save even more.

Step 3: Use daylight strategies and the power of the sun

Sunny days can be a source of natural — and free — supplemental heat for your home, even when temperatures are chilly outside. This is because radiant heat enters through the windows and helps warm your home. Daylighting is a strategy that takes advantage of the sun to help light your home and keep interior spaces comfortable, helping you reduce energy use and reliance on artificial light.

You can start enjoying the benefits of daylighting by starting some simple strategies immediately. During cold months when it's dark outside, keep shades closed to help better insulate your home. During the day when the sun is out, open your window treatments to allow the light to flood interior spaces. This will brighten your home and provide some radiant heat as well.

You can use daylight strategies for all windows, but keep in mind that east-facing windows provide good daylight during the morning while west-facing windows receive more light in the evening.

By taking a few proactive steps, you can reduce your energy bill and keep your home comfortable no matter how low temperatures go.

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