Winter can be brutal to your monthly bill, in some cases raising it by almost 20 percent. This means a good portion of the year will cost you a lot more money and its during the biggest shopping holidays.

Instead of letting the cold deplete your bank account it makes a lot more sense to follow some easy tips for lowering your heating bill. No matter what, you're probably going to be running your heater more during the winter, but you're also probably using it more than you need to.

If the cold weather has you down and those heating bills are getting depressing, check out these 10 easy ways to save home heat and lower your heating bills.

Winter Is Here

Curling up on a cold winter day with a sweater and blanket, sipping on some hot chocolate and reading a good book sounds great, but that picturesque winter outside is also forcing your home to run its heater on overtime, costing you serious money.

Cold weather doesn't just make your house less comfortable, it can cause disaster to your home. Protecting your home from extreme temperatures doesn't just save you money on your bill, it also saves you from receiving huge bills from repair services.

First Steps to Lowering Heating Bills

Before you start improving your home's resistance to the cold, there are a few steps you'll want to take care of. 

Find out how your home is heated. Many of these tips will work for you regardless of how your home is heated, but knowing it will make it easier to take action.

There are just a few primary ways that homes are heated. Find what you use and learn how it works during the winter.

You'll also want to examine your daily routine to determine where your home needs heating the most. 

Now that you've got the basics covered, start getting ready for winter.

10 Ways to Take Control of Your Heating Bill

These are 10 ways that will work for the majority of people out there. Some homes require more unique approaches, especially if you live in rural areas, but if that's the case for you, you can still use this as a starting point.

1. Fix Problems Before They Happen

But how can I fix a problem if there is no problem? You don't have to be a psychic, you just have to be aware of the common problems that can occur during cold months. Preventative maintenance is one of the most surefire ways to guarantee longevity and prevent future problems before they happen.

Find where your water pipes are. If you have a basement, they're probably located down there. If they are visible, check for any leaks. Also, check under your sinks to make sure no leaks have formed. Even a small leak can cause problematic ice issues.

If your heating system is having problems, now is the time to fix it before the weather drops. Learn about common HVAC issues and seek out a professional to help you repair them.

Now is also the time to talk to your family about best practices during the winter. Watch out for windows left open and limit the number of times the doors are left open. 

2. Thermostat Settings

Each degree you lower your thermostat during the winter will save you 1 percent of your energy bill each 8 hour period on average. That means that comfy sweaters and pants should be used instead of cranking up the heat every time you're cold.

Who doesn't want to save money while they sleep? You literally have to do nothing for this tip. Just set your thermostat to a lower setting during the night, but not dangerously low, and you'll see a big difference when you're bill arrives.

You don't have to be annoyingly strict, but it is a smart idea to set some expectations for your family during the winter. Set a limit on your thermostat settings and make sure that it isn't running more than it needs to.

If your home has multiple thermostats, make sure the settings are catered to the areas of the house they control. If you have a part of your house that isn't used a lot and has a separate thermostat, you should lower that particular unit.

3. Winter Cleaning

We all know about spring cleaning, but there is some winter cleaning you can do that will save you some money and headache.

Find your intake vents. This is where fresh air enters your home. Clean these vents out to make sure you're getting proper air flow. You'll also want to go around your house and clean all of your inside vents.

Hopefully, you're already changing your air filters on a regular schedule. If not, you should start. This isn't just important for heating and cooling, it also keeps allergens out of your home.

If you feel that more complex cleaning needs to be done or other actions need to happen for your HVAC system, find a professional that can service your heating and cooling system.

You don't want to leave windows and doors open during cleaning if you're paying to keep your house warm already.

4. Watch out for Your Windows

You may notice that when you walk past your windows during the winter that you feel a draft. If this is the case, then you are losing money. Windows can develop drafts and they need to be addressed.

Check all your windows before winter and find potential drafts. Since the best way to save home heat is by reducing the amount of cold air coming in, window drafts can be one of your worst enemies.

For areas with extreme winters, you may want to invest in heavy duty windows with thick panes that are designed to withstand the cold winter months.

You also have the option to use plastic coatings over your windows during the cold months. This isn't the most attractive option but it does seriously reduce drafts and the loss of heat.

Thick curtains are great for the winter. They act as an insulation barrier between you and the horrible cold, but they should be opened occasionally. Beyond just needing sun for happiness, letting the sunlight in during the day is a natural way to heat your home.

Let nature assist you in saving money.

5. Smart Thermostats

Technology is constantly evolving and you can now make your home smarter than ever. Smart thermostats are becoming more common as people realize how much money they can save with a minimal investment.

As mentioned earlier, setting your thermostat to a lower temperature can save you a ton of money. Remembering to adjust the thermostat at different times of the day can be annoying.

Smart thermostats can be programmed to automatically adjust at certain times, allowing you to maximize your heating efficiency in your home. You can also make adjustments while you're away, letting you heat up the home on your way back from a family holiday vacation.

They can also be controlled by your phone and through voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home. This means you can stay under your blanket and change your thermostat settings.

Most people save at least 10 percent off their heating bill by using a smart thermostat. They don't require a ton of installation and it saves you money all year long. 

6. Insulate Everything

This can be a major project to implement in your home, but it's also one of the best ways to save money. 

If you live in an older home, you may want to check out the insulation in your walls, even the basement, and make sure it's there and properly installed. Updating your insulation or having insulation installed where it is missing will protect your home from severe cold weather.

Insulation is your home's first line of defense against cold winds and extreme temperatures. While this can be expensive, the added bonus is that you will save money during the other seasons as well. Insulation not only keeps the cold air out and the hot air in, but it works in the reverse during the summer.

Certain types of insulation installation can also be used as a tax deduction, making this a no-brainer update to your home.

7. Heat Small Spaces

Have you found a great thermostat setting for your home but there's a room or corner that just stays cold no matter what you do? Instead of raising the temperature on your thermostat for the whole home, consider adding space heaters for these problem areas.

Space heaters do indeed use energy which shows up on your monthly bills, but they use much less to heat up a small room then raising the thermostat setting for the whole house.

Space heaters come in various sizes and power and have safeguards, allowing you not to worry while they are on. These are perfect for guest rooms, basement rooms and other areas that may have less insulation or poor vent flow.

Portable space heaters can be moved from room to room as needed, meaning you don't need to buy several for your house. 

Remember, the ultimate goal is to keep the lowest possible setting on your thermostat, so finding other heat-producing items that use less energy helps you achieve that goal and keep your heating bill low.

8. Don't Waste Water

How much hot water does your family use? There's a good chance that your water heater is using more energy than it needs to. In fact, water heaters account for almost 20 percent of your energy use.

Setting the water heater to around 130 degrees maintains hot enough water for showering and dishes, but uses far less energy and saves you money.

Improving your water heater if you have an older model is another way to save some money. It's possible that your water heater is the wrong size and that you are heating up too much water or replacing it too fast. Have a professional check it out.

Insulating hot water pipes is a great way for the water you've already heated to not cool down too fast. The less time it is heating, the more money you're saving.

You can also go green and install solar-heated water heaters which is a great way to save the environment and your wallet. 

If you have a heated swimming pool, make sure you are also adjusting that as needed if you're not swimming during the coldest periods of winter. These are things that most people forget that cost them money every month.

9. Blowing Hot Air

Your ceiling fans can be your best friend. They circulate air around the room and help keep a constant temperature. Many people don't think about changing the ceiling fan direction, but you may want to.

Reversing the direction of your ceiling fan blades allows the fan to push warm air up which then spreads across the room in an even direction. This keeps the whole room warm and prevents the draft that you only want during the hotter months.

Most ceiling fans can be adjusted with a simple switch on the fan's base. Test out the settings and find what works best for you.

10. Leaking Money

Every place that your house leaks warm air is more money added to your heating bill every single month. Finding these can be tricky but it is very necessary.

While you may want to do this before winter, it's easiest while it is already cold. If there is about a 30-degree difference between the temperature inside your house and the outside, it becomes much easier to feel leaks around your house.

Common areas include windows which we've already talked about but also your attic and any areas that wires come into your home.

Do a thorough inspection to find and identify all of these areas. Caulk and weather stripping can easily patch up the leaks and prevent huge increases on your bill. 

For leaks in places like under outside doors that aren't often used or other places that naturally allow cool air to flow in, laying down towels is a great and inexpensive method to controlling and saving home heat.

Wonderful Winter Warmth

While some of these steps require time and money to complete, you'll be glad you did them when your first heating bills of the season arrive. Most of these things only need to be done once and you can take advantage of them for multiple winters with only a little bit of upkeep.

You can handle much of this yourself, but to get the most out of your HVAC system a professional should be contacted to make sure the job is done right and that you are saving the most money possible during winter. Contact an HVAC professional today.