Keeping your heating bill in check

If you're in the middle of a deep-freeze like I am, you're probably worried about that home heating bill. It might be a little too late to save much money this winter, but it's a great time to talk about what you can do to save money in the future. Here are some tips for reducing your heating bill that are worth mentioning. You may find that every little bit helps, and that a small investment up front can give you a great long-term reduction in your heating costs.

Have your house checked for air leaks:
Drafty rooms can lose a lot of heat and cost a lot of money. A professional can help you identify unsealed air ducts that help you lose heat. You can also identify your own leaks throughout the house and seal them up with caulk or weatherstripping.

Repair and renovate: Obviously, broken or worn out windows and doors lose heat quickly. Make sure your house is in good repair to keep out the cold. If you're doing any major renovations, make sure to look into equipment and appliances that are energy efficient. You might also qualify for a rebate or a tax credit with certain energy efficient upgrades.

Regular maintenance: Make sure you change your filter on your furnace at least once a year. Consider a programmable thermostat to help control your costs and keep the heat low when you're not home. Blankets are cheap... so consider keeping the heat a degree or two lower and adding an extra blanket. Close the doors to rooms you don't use and shut the heat registers so you don't heat them unnecessarily.

Use caution: Not all upgrades or repairs to your home are worth the money. In particular, you should avoid things that scream "scam" because they make ridiculous promises. And find out if adding a bunch of insulation is going to really help your situation. Not every idea that sounds good is actually worth the money.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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