2014111171600600In some areas of the country, the cost of winter heating is so high that families begin budgeting for it as early as June. Whether your home is located in cold weather country or in a place with milder winters, it is possible for you to find significant savings on the cost of heating your home. Here are three major tips for paying less on winter home energy bills:

#1 Insulation

Estimates from the EPA suggests that the average homeowner can save up to 20% on their total heating and cooling costs by properly sealing their homes and adding insulation invulnerable places. These include attic spaces, flooring over crawl spaces, and any accessible basement rim joists. Increasing the level of insulation is a project that will pay for itself over time.

For many homes, windows are a source of heat loss and drafts during the winter months, letting warm air out and cold air into the home. Total heat loss in winter from poorly insulated windows alone can range from 15 to 35 percent. Replacing older windows with double-pane and insulated windows can create energy savings that extend into summer. Sealing drafts around helps, but properly installed energy-efficient windows are the better option.

#2 Replace Heating System

No one wants to replace their heating system because of the high upfront cost associated with doing so; however, an aging system can be a major source of rising home energy bills. The Energy Star program recommends replacing a heat pump after ten years and a furnace or boiler after fifteen to maximize energy efficiency. Newer models are 15% more efficient on average, leading to substantial savings over the life of the system.

If you cannot replace your heating system, consider installing a programmable thermostat and having regular maintenance performed. These steps can help abate the cost of having an older, less efficient unit.

#3 Home Energy Audits

Many resources exist to help homeowners combat excessively high winter energy bills. Energy audits that you can perform yourself are available online. Professional energy audit specialists are also available, whether through nonprofit or for profit sources. Auditors can help you with a variety of techniques to determine your home's energy efficiency. They often use specialized equipment to measure the extent of leaks and infrared cameras to reveal missing insulation. Either way, having someone take a look at your individual home is a great way to find all potential savings opportunities.

Image by ota_photos and licensed through Creative Commons.