4 ways to trim home heating bills

(NewsUSA) - Heating and cooling are the most expensive utility bills, and they consume the most home energy. According to the Department of Energy, heating your home generally makes up over half of a home's utility cost.

In fact, we spend so much money on staying warm that some homeowners will try uncomfortable tactics to save a few bucks -- like manually turning down a thermostat more than 10 degrees every night so they wake up in an ice box.

But there are legitimate ways to save money and stay comfortable while preparing for the changing weather. Check out four easy ways to trim bills while efficiently heating your home.

* Equip windows with necessary fortifications. Good Housekeeping Magazine estimates drafty windows add anywhere from 10 to 25 percent to your heating bill. So, open blinds during the day to soak up heat from the sun, and close them at dusk to keep the warm air inside. Drapes, weather stripping and caulking all help block drafts.

* Consider installing a vent-free gas heater, log or fireplace. Unlike other heating systems, vent-free gas products waste barely any energy -- they deliver 99 cents worth of heat for each dollar spent on energy bills. Install these attractive appliances in areas where the family spends most of their time while reducing the central heating thermostat, and save substantially on overall home heating costs. These products provide emergency heat during power outages as they require no electricity.

* Install programmable thermostats. There are enough things to remember in a day, and turning the thermostat up or down shouldn't be one of them. Programmable thermostats can be set to automatically pump less heat during the day when no one is home, or at night when everyone is asleep.

* Close the vents in unused rooms. If entire rooms are going largely unused, close the door and the vents to save energy. This can reduce your heating expenses while redirecting heat to rooms your family uses most often.