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As the temperature outside plummets, your home’s energy consumption climbs higher and higher. In order to keep the house comfortable, your furnace has to work overtime. In the modern technical age, the natural inclination is to think that the only solution is to upgrade your furnace. Fortunately, a few simple fixes can power up the effectiveness of your heating system with ease, creating a more energy efficient home at a fraction of the cost.

Fix Air Leaks

As the walls of your house expand and contract each season, little gaps will eventually begin to form in certain spots. This occurs most frequently where there are gaps in the wall, such as door frames, windows and outlets. On a cold, windy day these gaps will be easy to spot. Simply run your hand slowly along the frame of every door and window, and put a piece of tape at any spot where you feel cold air leaking in. Then, purchase a cheap caulking gun and seal every leak. This caulking will allow the house to better retain heat, thus reducing the number of times the furnace comes on each day.

Clean Air Filters

One of the biggest keys to an energy-efficient home is proper airflow. Dirty air filters restrict airflow, preventing the warm air produced by your filter from circulating effectively. Check your filters every month and change them at least once every three months to promote the best possible air circulation.

Seal Duct Leaks

Have your ductwork checked for leaks along the seams leading to the vents. This will ensure that no airflow is lost before the warm air enters your living space.

Programmable Thermostat

If you do not have a programmable thermostat, you are throwing money away each time you fiddle with the temperature. Programming allows the thermostat to keep the house comfortable during the times when people are active, and then give the unit a break when everyone is at work or asleep. Additionally, be sure to have the thermostat hold a lower temperature when you will be gone for longer than 12 hours.

Proper Pan Size

Creating an energy-efficient home extends beyond the heating system. Your stove has different burner sizes for a reason. When you use a smaller pan on a large burner, you are wasting the energy of any burner space not completely covered by the pan. Furthermore, if you use a large pan on a small burner, you will dramatically increase the cook time. This means that the burner will be on longer, consuming more energy.

Remember that energy efficiency is about the long term investment. Each small step you take may only save a few dollars this month, but that money adds up over time. Also keep in mind that when machines run more efficiently, they last longer. Getting a few more years out of your furnace could be a difference of several thousand dollars over your lifetime.