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Did you know that a large portion of your energy usage goes toward heating your home? The U.S. Energy Administration reveals that heating takes up 42 percent of your homes energy use. This means it will make up a huge chunk of your utility bills, almost half. And that bill could balloon even more when your heating system has to work extra hard during fall. We are pretty lucky here in Ventura County to have had such a warm fall, it almost feels strange to be talking about fall home maintenance. However, it is a scary thought that the threat of El Nino could bring a dramatic shift in our weather very soon.

With careful energy assessment and by following good practices to prevent heat loss in your home, you can actually save energy this winter. Use our energy guide to maximize your heating system and maintain the comfort of your home—without the hefty utility bill.

Make sure your heating and cooling system is in good condition.

Ideally, you’ll want to do this before winter arrives. Now is the best time to have an HVAC inspection. If your furnace is less than ten years old you will likely be keeping your warranty in tact by performing regular maintenance. You can check the manufacturer’s manual for its suggested maintenance plan, and you can also hire an HVAC service company to see if your system needs a tune-up.

Use sunlight as much as possible.

Some rooms in your home may get more sunlight than others; take advantage of this opportunity to bring in natural heating to your home. Open your curtains or blinds during daytime. Then as night falls, close the window treatments to reduce the chill from cold windows. We know how much our fellow Southern California living friends love a good ray of sunshine.

Check for air leaks and seal them.

An air leak is a big contributor to heat loss. So look for leaks around utility pipes, insulated ceilings, spaces behind cupboards, doors, and windows. If you have a chimney, check for gaps. You’ll want to caulk or add weather-stripping to seal the air leaks around doors and windows.

Never let warm air go up the chimney.

Close your fireplace damper, unless you have got a fire going. You should also check the seal on the flue damper, and ensure that it stays snug. When you are not using your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. When using your fireplace, make sure to open dampers in the bottom of the firebox and lower your thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F. You can also open the nearest window a little, to about an inch, to prevent heat loss.

Change the setting of your thermostat as your activities throughout the day change.

Investing in a programmable thermostat is one of the leading energy efficiency tips homeowners are gravitating towards. Having the control from your cell phone to set the temperature of your home is a great way to ensure you are not waisting heat or air conditioning through the year.

Other ways to keep your energy use to a minimum during the cooler months include turning your water heater temperature down and using LED lighting for holiday decorations. With a few simple methods, you can keep your energy costs down without sacrificing your comfort at home.

Source: http://www.energy.gov/energy saver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips

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