woman adjusting a thermostat

Who doesn't love saving money? With winter on its way, what if there were some things you could do right now to keep that cash in your wallet inside of spending it on those ever-mounting electric and heating costs? 

If you feel like your expenses skyrocket as temperatures drop, you're not alone. The average family spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, according to Energy Star. 

The good news is there are some simple changes you can initiate right now to make your home more energy efficient. Not only are you doing something good for the planet, you'll save a few bucks along the way! 

And over time, who knows, maybe you could even stash away enough to escape winter for a few days by visiting a place where you (and your hot water heater) won't need a blanket! 

More from The Stir: 10 Seriously Easy Ways to Save Money Each Month

Insulated Curtains

Everyone knows new window treatments can give a room a fresh look, but what if they also saved you money? Insulated curtains can do just that! Because windows are the main source of heat loss within your home, this added layer of protection helps control room temperature by keeping cold air out and warm air in. 

They can also help out in the summer by not allowing the sun's ray to heat up your home, forcing you to jack up the air conditioning. This makes them a good year-round investment. 

An average home featuring 15 windows outfitted with energy-efficient window coverings can achieve an annual energy savings of $150, according to HouseLogic.com.

Clean Furnace

The easiest and most commonly forgotten step to an efficient furnace is a clean filter. Dirty filters can restrict airflow, slow down the heating process and increase energy use. 

Changing or cleaning your furnace filters once every one to three months, especially during periods of heavy use, increases efficiency, according to Earth911.com.

Keeping that filter clean will also put some cash back in your wallet. You can expect to see a savings of between 5 and 15 percent on your energy bills thanks to a clean filter, notes Josh Peterson of Planet Green

Plus, this is something you can do yourself by following these easy steps. 

Insulate Pipes

Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperatures between two and four degrees, allowing you to lower your water temperature setting.

As an added bonus, you won't have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water.

Doing it yourself is easier than you might think. With materials costs in the $10 range, you can expect to get your money back within the first year. 

Seal Your Fireplace

Fireplaces are lovely to look at and add a warm and inviting glow to any room. But if the damper, which acts as a seal between the fireplace and chimney when it's not in use, isn't as efficient as it could be, you're probably letting heat escape without even knowing it. 

Checking the damper seal is a must as heat-loss through the chimney accounts for as much as eight of the heating costs for an average home, according to The Superior Chimney Sweep.com

Installing glass doors on your fireplace, much like adding storm windows to your home, is another way to keep warm air in and cold air outside where it belongs. 

Turn Down Temperature on Hot Water Heater

Making a small adjustment to your hot water heater can save you big money over the course of the year. 

Suzanne Jones, vice president of the Association of Energy Services Professionals, says for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature, you can save $10 per month. 

Clean Your Dryer Vent

Your dryer is less efficient with a lint-filled vent. Even if you clean the lint trap before or after every load of laundry, you’ll still get some lint in the vent hose, and it keeps building up over time. 

If you start to notice that clothes aren't getting dry the first time around, lint in the vent may be the culprit. Cleaning out that hose once every year or two can save the average family $18 to $24, according to Bob Bryfogle of Dryer Vent Wizard.

Doing it yourself is easier than you think. 

Vampire Power

While it might sound like the name of a band or a scary movie, vampire power is the energy used by some products when they are turned off but still plugged into a power or wall outlet. 

Get in the habit of unplugging devices you're not using or are already fully charged. 

The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off (or in standby mode), according to Energy Star. 

Insulate Your Hot Water Heater

Is your hot water heater hot to the touch? If so, insulating it may just save you money and energy.

For a $20 investment, consider picking up a hot water heater insulation blanket and wrapping that baby up. If your tank is located in a place that gets chilly during the winter, you may save as much as $20 annually, recouping your expense in year one!  

Install an Efficient Shower Head

Switching to a water-saving showerhead that uses two gallons of water per minute, as opposed to an older model that uses two and a half, or still older models that used as much as five and a half gallons of water per minute, will not only save the resource for future generations but also save you cash. 

A more efficient shower head can save you as much as $15 to $25 per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

Sure, you might lose a magnet or an ice cube under your fridge, but guess what else may be hiding under there? Dust. Lots and lots of it. Cleaning the coils of your fridge will help the appliance run much more efficiently, thereby saving you money on those electric bills.

Let's face it: your fridge is one of your top energy-users in your home, accounting for almost 14 percent of your overall use. Simply by cleaning the coils, you can reduce the amount of energy it uses by up to 30 percent, according to the Consumer Energy Center. Pretty cool!

Here's a step-by-step video tutorial to get you started.

Have you made any changes that have saved you big money? 


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