It’s that time of the year again: the holiday season. Yes, the time between Halloween and New Year’s Eve is marked by more than a few trademarks. The leaves are changing colors. Your social calendar is filling up with parties and family events. Stores are already pulling out the Christmas decorations. And, perhaps most noticeably, the weather is beginning to turn cold.

While this time of the year is lots of fun and filled with warm, happy memories, it can sometimes be costly to keep your home just as warm and happy. Many families see their electric bill rise during the winter months, and 50 percent of their bill simply goes to heating the house. Families struggle to pay bills on a regular basis, therefore some of them may prepare by setting up a winter budget to cover for all the expenses that come into play during the holidays…even cutting back on gift giving. However, this doesn’t have to be the case; with a little careful preparation, you can make sure that your house stays warm and toasty without your bill skyrocketing.

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The Cost of Higher Temperatures

You may think that lowering the thermostat doesn’t do much for your overall electricity costs. Well believe it or not, they do. In fact, the Alliance to Save Energy has reported that every one degree you lower your thermostat amounts to a three percent savings on your bill! This three percent can make a world of difference in the winter months, particularly when it is the time to splurge on holiday presents. Your family could certainly use those extra dollars to buy beautiful holiday decorations and turn your home into a winter wonderland, or splurge a little bit by sharing with your family and friends a cherishable holiday dinner.

What Can You Do?

If your thermostat is keeping cool, how can you stay warm? With a few money-saving tricks, of course! These tips are simple, inexpensive, and will yield big savings.

1. Insulation

Make sure your house is properly insulated, and go the extra mile by inexpensively sealing up the gaps around your windows and doors. Make sure your windows let in natural, warming sunlight during the day. Consider dropping the temperature on your water heater (a drop from 140 degrees to 120 degrees will keep your showers warm without hogging all the energy). And, if you travel during the holidays, make sure your thermostat and hot water heater are kept low. After all, there’s no need to heat an empty house!

2. Get Smart

Invest in a smart home system which adjusts the thermostat for you to save on energy costs. A programmable thermostat can save you an average $180 per year with heating and cooling costs. Smart systems can automatically adjust the temperature once the user sets it for first few days to cut down heating costs considerably.

3. Bundle Up

Another great idea to turn down your thermostat is bundling up when in home. You can avoid shedding the sweater upon getting home. Wearing warm clothes inside the home can let you stay warm without having to burn up your heater. This small sacrifice can slash five to twenty percent from your energy bill.

4. Be Cautious

If you have rooms in your house that you use occasionally like storage areas and guest rooms, close them and seal any vents to be more energy efficient. This will direct the flow of air to the rooms you live in. You can save a lot on electricity costs by using the space heater in the rooms you use the most.

5. Other Accessories

 Buy some extra accessories like an electric blanket. They are known to use very little energy and work perfectly if you stay at one place for a long time. Mobile pet heaters are also worth investing in as they give some warmth while showing your love for your pets. Put heat packs and hot water bottles on the bed to stay warm through the night.

6. Cover Floors 

If your home has a lot of flooring that gets cold and freezes your feet, use rugs and mats to cover as much floor as possible. You can find some budget-friendly carpets and rugs on sale at major stores.

7. Shop Smarter

Try to get wool and polyester clothes that keep you warmer instead of cotton. You can consider layering to stay warm throughout the day and night even when you are in the home. Getting some winter pieces will surely prove to be worthy as compared to paying the electricity bills to raise temperature of your place.

8. Use the Free Heat 

Utilize the Sun to your advantage by keeping the curtains facing the sun open during the cold days to bring free heat into the home. You can close the window coverings after the sun goes to keep the heat sealed.

9. Eat Iron-Rich Food

During colder months, it is important to focus on your diet as staying warm requires energy and energy comes from food. You should include leafy greens, eggs, seafood and lean meats and other foods rich in iron into your diet during the holiday season. Iron would help your blood cells to to transport energy throughout the body to keep you warm.

10. Exercise

Many of you would stop reading after seeing this one because most of us hate exercise. But exercise gets your blood pumping and makes you warm. You can consider any of your favorite activity like aerobics or dance to warm up your blood and save on heating up the room.

With these simple suggestions, you will be able to keep your energy use low (which is great for the environment), keep your energy costs low (which is great for your wallet), and keep your loved ones toasty and warm while you celebrate the holidays together. Whether you are revealing in your trick-or-treating wins, giving thanks around the dinner table, spinning the dreidel, or opening gifts from Santa, you can be sure that you’ll be cozy, and have some peace of mind as you save some bucks.