The cold weather months are rapidly approaching, and for many homeowners, the change in seasons means higher energy bills too. While making the switch to a more affordable or more efficient system would resolve the problem, it does require additional funds. For homeowners who aren't ready to make the jump to a more efficient system just yet, there are ways to slash energy bills and run a more environmentally friendly home.

Cold weather can arrive without much warning, so fall is the ideal time to optimize your heating system and make sure your home is ready for the chilly days and nights ahead. Prepare your home this fall using the following tips and ideas, and you'll stay warm and comfortable all winter long.

  • Prep your fireplace - If you have a fireplace or wood stove, it's time to get it ready for cold weather. Chimney service is usually inexpensive in the summer months, and can skyrocket as soon as the temperature drops. You'll love having a crackling fire in the winter, and you'll love the effect it has on your heating bills too.
  • Turn on your heater - You've been running your air conditioners and ceiling fans for months, but your heating system hasn't had any exercise at all. Make sure everything is running well before you need to heat your home. Simply turning your heater on and running it for a few minutes will help you identify problems and address them early, before peak winter repair season kicks in.
  • Winterize your water - If you have any pipes or faucets that are in danger of freezing, take the time to insulate them now and avoid a costly repair later. If you have a water heater, make sure it is insulated and working at peak efficiency; if it feels warm or hot when you touch it, it needs more insulation.
  • Replace filters - If you don't know where your filters go, or haven't replaced them since you moved into your home, it is definitely time to get new ones. Most heating system manufacturers suggest you replace filters every month or so, but you may want to do so more frequently if you have pets or a lot of dust in the air. When your filters are fresh and clean, your heating system won't have to work as hard, and you'll use less electricity to heat your home.
  • Cover your windows - Is it time to upgrade your window treatments? Using blinds or blackout curtains can help your home retain warmth and trim your heating bill too. Large windows and sliding glass doors are particular culprits; covering them up will reduce the amount of energy you use.
  • Seek out drafts - Your doors and windows may be wasting energy, and costing you money every time you turn on your heating system. Check for drafts to find and eliminate this expensive drain on your resources. A small battery-powered fan can help you check your windows and doors and make sure your home is draft-free. Caulk around windows and door frames, and use draft blockers at the base of your doors to eliminate any problems.
When it comes to heating your home, little things do make a difference, in both your environmental footprint and your energy cost. By taking a few minutes this fall, you can address your home's energy issues and get ready for cold weather before winter arrives. Best of all, if you find something wrong with your heating system, your local HVAC professional will be more available and affordable before the cold weather arrives.

Winterizing your Indiana home doesn't just help with your energy bill, it also keeps the pests away! Our friends at Freedom Pest Control, a pest control company serving greater Indianapolis, have written a related article on preventing pests from setting up for the winter months inside. Be sure to check it out!