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Stay toasty and save energy this winter

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By Emily Anderson
From Green Goes Simple

Winter is my favorite season, but that doesn't mean I enjoy being cold. I appreciate a well-heated home -- and I'm definitely not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with half of it going towards heating. You can't stop the cold, but you can stop spending so much on your winter energy bill. Try these small changes that will add up to big savings:

Take Control
A programmable thermostat will earn its money back in no time. Plus, you won't have to remember to lower the heat to 68 F -- which is where it should be -- when you go to bed each night.

Stop the Draft
Install a door sweep: It's one of the easiest and most effective changes you can make in your home. Think about putting one on the back door, garage door and attic door -- any door that may be in need of an extra barrier against the cold.

Fix the Drip
A leaky faucet will drain your wallet with every drip. The cost to heat your water can skyrocket when the weather is cold -- so every drop counts. Most often it's a quick fix with a new washer. Save even more money on your energy bill by installing a faucet aerator. Aerators, or filters, will help control the flow from your faucet and will save you plenty on your water bill.

Let it Shine
Clean windows allow more sunlight -- and natural solar heat -- into your home. Keep blinds or curtains open during the day and closed at night. 

Wash the Machine
This is a year-round money saver. Dust and residue build up over time inside your washing machine, so monthly cleanings will keep it running efficiently. Your energy bill will be lower -- and your clothes will be cleaner .

Heating Ducts
Even the smallest crack in a heating duct will cost you on your energy bill each month. Some utility companies offer a free energy audit, during which a pro helps you to find the leaks. If your company doesn't give you that option, it may still be worth it to pay for the same service in order to find those sneaky energy drainers.

Clean the Furnace
The air filters in your furnace should be cleaned at least once a month to keep it working efficiently. All you have to do is wipe them with a fresh dryer sheet. You should also replace filters a few times a year.

Enjoy the Great Indoors
Take care of yourself! Blustery winter weather can increase your chances of catching a cold. Eating right, exercising and finding time to relax in the warmth of your home are all great ways to keep the sniffles away. After all, making eco-wise choices shouldn't just be good for the environment -- it should be good for you too.

Find more helpful information at EnergyGuide.com and the Energy Savers Blog

Emily Anderson is the author of Eco-chic Home, Eco-chic Weddings and When Changing a Lightbulb Just Isn't Enough. Her work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, The New York Times and her blog, GoodWithStyle.com. Her articles have previously appeared on Green Goes Simple. 

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