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Reduce Your Energy Bills This Winter, Part I Are you in shock over sky-high gas prices? This winter will bring in big energy bills, too. Read these tips on how to cut them down to size.

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We've all braved the steep prices at the gas pumps thissummer, but our energy expenses are far from over. As winterapproaches, so does the increase in electricity, heating oil andnatural gas usage. Energy efficiency is the smartest approach tohold down costs while still remaining comfortable. So here are sometips to cut your energy bills this winter:

  • Heating accounts for the biggest chunk of winter energy bills.Make sure your furnace receives a professional "tune-up"each year, and clean or replace air filters once a month to helpyour unit run more efficiently.
  • You can cut related annual energy expenditures by 30 percent.As heating and cooling equipment, appliances, computers and officeequipment, windows, lighting fixtures, and consumer electronicsbreak down or no longer meet your needs, replace them with productsbearing the Energy Star label (http://www.energystar.com)
  • Your home is probably leaking energy dollars. Make sure atticand/or ceilings are well-insulated. Seal joints in attic air ducts,and make sure they're well insulated, too. (See the NorthAmerica Insulation Manufactures Association Web site for insulation details.)
  • Plug other energy "leaks." Seal leaks between movingparts (between a door and its frame) with weather-stripping. Fillleaks between nonmoving parts (between window frames and walls)with caulking, and install low-e or spectrally selective windows,glass doors, and skylights.
  • To see what energy upgrades would have the greatest payoff, logon to the interactive Home Energy Checkup on the Alliance to SaveEnergy's Website. See an animated version of Power$mart: Easy Tips toSave Money and the Planet or get a free print copy at (888)878-3256.
  • Tired of waking up in a chilly bedroom, so you leave the heaton all night? A programmable thermostat will automaticallycoordinate your home temperature with your daily and weekendpatterns to increase comfort and monetary savings.

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