It’s almost that time of year again-that time when freezing temperatures have you cranking up the heat. Unfortunately, it also means higher heating bills unless you use the following tips to keep expenses low.  We previously gave you a few tips (  Here are a few more.

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

Before winter arrives, add a layer of insulation to your attic and floors. Energy Star recommends homes in the Chicago area add R5 or R6 insulative sheathing between siding and wood frame walls. They also advise placing three to four inches of R38 or higher insulation in attics.

Additional Weatherproofing Measures

Aside from adding insulation, you should also:

Bundle Up

You’ll naturally save money if you are able to lower your thermostat a bit. This means putting on layers rather than running around in shorts and a t-shirt. Keep your bathrobe, fuzzy house slippers, and even a stocking cap handy so that you can throw them on if you get a bit chilly. Place lots of cozy blankets in strategic areas of your home so that you will have something to wrap up in when temperatures drop.

Use Fans Wisely

Exhaust fans are designed to pull hot air through their exhaust vents and out of your home. This means that each time you use them, you are allowing heat to escape. As such, you should limit their use, and never allow your fans to run continuously.

Ceiling fans on the other hand push warm air down, ensuring it remains in your room. Reverse your blades so that they run clockwise and then leave them running on the lowest setting possible.

Keep Things Clean

As part of your fall cleaning checklist, don’t forget to vacuum your register vents and cold air return. Clean the grills covering your heat exchangers, particularly if they are clogged with pet hair. Replace filters on a monthly basis, or remove and clean washable filters as needed. Wash windows inside and out so there are no dirty streaks that might filter sunlight. Keep ceiling fan blades dusted so they can move freely to keep warm air circulating.

Have Your Furnace Tuned Up

We’ve said this before but will say it again.  Just as your car requires regular tune-ups, so does your furnace. Systems that receive regular maintenance operate more efficiently and require fewer repairs than ones that are neglected. Aside from changing your filters, this is the single most important thing you can do to lower your heating costs.

There are plenty of things to dread about winter, but a higher heating bill doesn’t have to be one of them. Follow the above tips to eliminate some of the “sticker shock” that’s often associated with colder weather.