Read below for several ways to conserve energy and save money on your winter gas bill.

Home Insulation
The cheapest and easiest way to begin to decrease your winter gas bill is by insulating your home. The average older home can save as much as 30% on its gas bill with good insulation and weatherization. To keep the hot air in and cold air out, look for where cold air can blow in. Check for air coming into the home from around electrical sockets and plumbing from the main. Install gaskets or stuff insulation around these areas to minimize the draft. Be sure to install storm windows as soon as possible. You can also install clear plastic film around the window to simulate a storm window. Caulking at joints and seams where different materials meet will eliminate sources of heat loss. Be sure your fireplace chimney flue is tightly closed. Be creative in trying to solve and find leaks in your home. The investment in time and materials will be well worth it.

Finally, if possible, inspect existing insulation bating in the attic, basement and walls. Some areas may have been damaged over the years and need replacing. Often attics can use additional layers of new, improved insulation products. If your home has crawl spaces, install insulation in that area.

Warning: After insulating and sealing your home if you notice black soot appearing in your furnace or water heater you may have sealed your home too tightly. Older heating systems need some fresh air to work properly. Lack of fresh air is not a problem with larger homes. Another symptom of a lack of fresh air to the gas equipment is if occupants of the home have headaches or become dizzy. Homeowners should invest in a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm to guard against this problem. Without some fresh air gas equipment will produce CO which is a serious detriment to your health.

Inspect Your Existing Heating Equipment
Buying a new high-efficiency furnace and water heater will save you the most in the long run but for most the initial cost prohibits that investment. This does not mean your existing furnace cannot be improved. Often ignored simple maintenance can help your furnace produce more heat for less money. Be sure to check the filters and replace or clean them to provide better airflow. Clean off debris build up on the blower that can accumulate over time. Look for any exposed hot air conduits that could be insulated.

Try to find the coolest temperature that you are still comfortable with in the winter and lower the thermostat setting when no one is in the home. Don’t forget to close blinds and drapery at night and along the north side of the house during the day. Open blinds during the day on windows that get direct sunlight to provide radiant heat.

Don’t forget that conserving hot water can also minimize your gas bill. Turn the hot water heater down to 120 degrees. Repair any leaky faucets and use aerators and flow controllers to conserve hot water in showers and faucets. Wait to run dishwashers and clothes washers until you have a full load.

Visit the Home Energy Saver web site where there is a wealth of information on improving your home and decreasing your energy bills.

See Level Budget Plan for another way to keep your winter heat bills down.