Tips to cut home heating costs

Tips to cut home heating costs
For most of us, home heating takes a sizable bite out of the family budget.

And if you have a house that easily lets cold air in and warm air out, you're literally throwing money out the window.

Here are some tips from Good Housekeeping to find and seal up those leaks:

Smoke out cold-air leaks using a stick of incense:
With the stick smoldering, move it toward the edges of windows and doors. If there's a draft, the smoke will be blown horizontally (no draft, and the smoke will rise as normal). Fix it with caulk, applied inside and out.

Block AC ducts:
If your AC ducts aren't used by your heating system, even when the air is off, drafts from the dormant ducts can make the house feel colder. Magnetic register covers are a good fix.

Seal up your attic and basement:
Make sure access doors' gaskets aren't old or cracked, and install door sweeps if needed to completely block off unheated areas from the rest of your house.

For its October issue, Consumer Reports surveyed people about their energy use. Half the people polled said they do not turn down the head before they go to bed.

The editors say you can save up to 20 percent on your heating and cooling bills by adjusting temperatures 5 or 10 degrees at night or when you're out.

A programmable thermostat will remember to do that for you. It automatically turns down the heat at night or when you go to work. So if you don't have one, maybe this is the year to get one.

Consumer Reports looked at the numbers and concluded that replacing a manual thermostat with a programmable one could save you about $200 a year on energy to heat and cool your house.

And remember to clean or replace the furnace filters. You should do that every month during the heating season.

Open the blinds during the day to let in the warming sunlight can also help cut down on heating costs.