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Saving on Home Heating

With the colder months upon us, keeping your home warm can be a costly expense.  Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com, offers some tips on how to keep winter heating bills in check.

First, appeal for federal aid.  This may be the last year you can grab a credit for up to $500 worth of energy-efficient home projects, including insulation and windows. There are also some states rebates lingering from last year. Ohio, for example, offers 100% of the cost of an Energy-Star furnace. EnergyStar.gov has the details to claim either.

Also, take the opportunity to get audited.  It's a good thing when it comes to home energy. Many states offer audits for free, to alert you to possible problems like low insulation and drafts around doors and electrical outlets. $30 worth of caulk and sealing products can cut your energy problem year round by as much as 20%.

Next, use the thermostat.  Set it to let the house get cooler while you're at work and asleep. You could cut your bill by another 15%. Plus, the programs will warm things up for your arrival home, so you won't come back to a chilly house.

And don't be afraid to shop around.  If you use home heating oil or propane, it's your choice who fills your tank. Shop around. Prices for those fuels were cheaper in late summer, and you may be able to find a better deal from a company or consumer co-op that locked in good prices then.

And finally, use some cheap tricks to keep things toasty.  Keep shades open during the day to let warming sunshine in. Hot air rises, so reverse your fan to push hot air down. You can also take advantage of heat generated by cooking and running the clothes dryer to turn your thermostat down another notch.

For more advice on how to save on your home heating bills and other consumer advice, visit www.smartmoney.com