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Be winter-wise and winterize 

You can raise the water temperature inside your home’s water pipes by 2 to 4 degrees by insulating them, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Insulating enables you to turn down the heat on your water heater, saving energy and money. 

Start by insulating the pipes coming out of your water heater. With a gas water heater, keep pipe insulation at least 6 inches away from the flue. Insulate hot and cold water lines. Insulating your water heater also saves on water heating costs, but don’t obstruct the pressure relief valve, thermostats or access valves. 

Air sealing can be done as a do-it-yourself project or by a professional. 

Add weatherstripping around windows to prevent warm air from escaping your home and caulk the gaps where the window trim meets the wall and the window frame. Use curtains to make the room feel warmer. 

Fireplace fallacies 

A fireplace may add ambience to your home, but it also can draw the warm air out of the house, cooling it down or causing your heating system to use more energy. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, close the damper when your fire is extinguished. 

Adding tempered glass doors to a wood-burning fireplace can create an extra buffer between the cold outside and a cozy living space. Some gas fireplaces require a damper to remain permanently open so gas can vent out of the home. Check the specifications of your unit to ensure safe operation. 

Should I close off rooms?

The rule of thumb for closing off parts of a home to save energy comes down to the type of heat source. If you have a zonal heating system, where individual areas are controlled separately, you can close doors and heat only the areas you use. Exception: Keep areas with plumbing or water lines warm enough so pipes do not freeze. If you have a central forced-air heating system, leave doors and registers open to all heated areas—closing them uses more energy. 

MIRANDA BOUTELLE writes on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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