• Tip #1: Check (and maybe replace) your furnace filter

Dirty filters block air flow and can make your heating system work overtime. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, that can cause faster burnout and higher heating costs. Old-style furnace filters (inch-thick fiberglass panels) typically need to be replaced monthly, while newer pleated, electrostatically-charged filters usually last about three months. For both types, experts recommend checking for buildup every month and being especially diligent during months of heavy use.

  • Tip # 2: Only heat the rooms you use

Your heating system guzzles needless energy trying to keep every room in your house cozy during winter. Make sure the room with your thermostat is getting heat, but instead of sending warmth to the four corners, keep vents and doors closed in rarely used rooms. This reduces the amount of work your heating system needs to do to reach your thermostat’s temperature setting. You might even find that your house has fewer drafts and warms up faster. Now that's cozy.

  • Tip #3: Get a hot bod without cranking up the thermostat

The human body is essentially a walking heat factory, so why not harvest your own natural resource? For each degree you lower your thermostat over a regular eight-hour stretch in the winter heating season -- every night when your tucked snugly in bed, for example -- energy costs drop by about 1 percent, according to the Department of Energy.

  • Tip # 4: Insulate your attic

If you've managed to stop heat from escaping downstairs, you may still be letting it seep out through your roof. To make the most of energy saving efforts, consider checking insulation levels in your attic. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, households with less than 6 or 7 inches of insulation in the attic generally benefit from adding 6 to 10 additional inches. Energy Star recommends distributing insulation evenly, with no low spots out near the eaves.

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