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Top 10 tips on how to keep your electric bill low in winter

Electric bills can be scary come winter. Now that you're done working through your moving checklist, start working on your energy-saving checklist. 

Thoughts of a warm and cozy home may put a smile on your face this winter, especially if you've just finished moving in. The electricity bill after changing address, however, may just send a chill down your spine. While you may have had a number of techniques in your old home to keep the energy bills down, now may be the best time to review some other habits you let fall by the wayside. Here are 10 tips for reducing your energy bill this winter. 

1) Allow proper air flow 
In your rush to lay out furniture for the perfect feng shui, you may have accidentally neglected to take into account the vents. Blocking air flow with furniture, rugs and book shelves is an easy way for people to run up their energy bill. Keep vents open and uncluttered for maximal air flow efficiency, and you may just see a drop in your monthly payments 

2) Lower the temperature
You shouldn't keep your home at the same temperature throughout the year. In the winter months you'll want to set your thermostat a little lower than you normally do. The U.S. Department of Energy recommended setting the thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit while you're awake, and even lower while asleep or at home. You can save as much as 1 percent on your energy bill for each degree lowered for eight hours, according to the department.

3) Install programmable thermostats
Planning to move is in part about starting a developing lifestyle. Your new home should have a programmable thermostat. However, if you really want to save money and you live in a two-story home, consider investing in separate thermostats for upstairs and downstairs. At night, you'll only have to heat one half of your house, resulting in considerable energy savings.

4) Check for air leaks
Buildings can lose a flood of heat due to poor insulation and air leaks. Improperly sealed windows and doors are among the biggest culprits for lost heat. Sometimes the sealing can be so bad that all you have to do is put your hand next to a window frame to feel air flowing out of the room. Fortunately, this can easily be fixed with caulk or another sealant. 

5) Close the chimney
Hot air rises, and chimneys are designed to create a draft that pulls warm air up and out of a house. Close the fireplace when you're not using it. 

6) Change your light bulbs
Older light bulbs are a drain on your electricity bill. Invest in energy efficient light bulbs, which require less energy and last significantly longer. The U.S. government recommended compact fluorescent light bulbs

7) Turn off and unplug
Make sure you turn off lights and appliances when you're not using them. You may also want to unplug what USA Today calls vampire electronics. These are devices that still draw energy even when they are not being used, such as TVs and computers. You can purchase a power switch that lets users redirect power to an outlet, according to USA Today. However, you can just buy a power strip and unplug it at the end of every day. 

8) Passively heat your home
People were regulating the temperature of their homes long before the invention of boilers and air conditioning units. Passively heat your home by opening blinds during the day and taking advantage of solar energy. Close the blinds at night to help retain the heat you gained.

9) Buy energy efficient appliances
Before moving, you should have gotten rid of any useless or redundant appliances. Now that you've relocated, you may want to consider upgrading to more energy efficient products. The U.S. Government has suggested appliances with an Energy Star logo. 

10) Change time of use
According to USA Today, power companies charge more for energy use during peak hours. Run large appliances such as the oven or laundry during off-hours to save money.

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