Save money and energy this winter with these top tips.

The month of December isn’t just all about holiday cheer and shopping trips. It also means the beginning of snow falls and frigid temperatures. So, as you’re running around checking off your shopping list and spending your hard-earned money, it’s also a good time to start thinking about saving money (and energy) during the winter months ahead.

And because the team at Family Horizons Credit Union is all about saving money, we came up with a list of top ten energy saving tips to help you get started. From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!

1. Soak in the sun. On clear, sunny days, raise up those blinds and open those drapes on all your south-facing windows. Why? Because the sunlight can help heat up your home – the natural way. But remember to cover them back up at night to help keep that chill from windows creeping into your house.
2. Check for drafts. Inspect all your windows and doors to see if you can detect any drafts. If you do, old or worn weather stripping might be the culprit. Replace as needed, add a layer of caulk, or consider installing plastic indoor window covers. By following directions, the results are a tightly sealed plastic layer that will help reduce drafts. Also, if you don’t have window covers, think about adding some thick, insulated drapes or curtains to provide an extra barrier against the cold.
3. Adjust your thermostat. Adjust your heating system during the day to the lowest setting that is comfortable. During sleeping hours, turn your thermostat back and add a blanket or two on your beds. Experts suggest that by setting the thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours, you can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.
4. Look out for leaks. Take a good look around both inside and outside for leaks or gaps in places where any plumbing or pipes come in and out of your walls. Are they sealed or closed off properly? Check for leaks or gaps in recessed lighting, electrical outlets, and unfinished spaces behind closets or utility rooms. Seal up any leaks and help insulate your home to keep warm air where it belongs – inside.
5. Maintain your heating system. If you haven’t already, schedule service for your heating system. Replace filters as your manufacturer suggests, and if needed, invest in a programmable thermostat.
6. Be fireplace smart. Keep your fireplace damper closed when not in use. An open damper is the same as an open window during winter (warm air will escape right out the chimney). When you do have a fire going, close doors leading into the room, if possible, and then lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
7. Adjust your water heater. Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home. If you turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F), you’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.
8. Use the right holiday lights. Who doesn’t love twinkling lights? You can enjoy them even more by using light-emitting diode (LED) holiday light strings, which reduce energy use and cut down on those electric bills. And consider turning your display on for shorter periods (instead of from dusk to dawn), using a timer with multiple setting options.
9. Turn off the lights. It sounds so simple, but it’s easy to get distracted with household activity and before you know it, every light in the house is on. Make a concerted effort to turn off the lights when you leave a room, and remind your family to do the same. Even better, you can save additional money on your electricity bill by using motion sensors and timer controls.
10. Unplug, unplug, unplug. Get in the habit of unplugging kitchen appliances (like the toaster), computers and other electronics when not in use. Even if they’re not turned on, they will still use up energy when plugged in.