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With the onset of this chilly, miserable winter weather, it's time to start thinking about heating your house.

Chances are, you'll be spending quite a bit of time indoors in the next few weeks, trying to keep out of the cold. It's understandable: it can be hard to convince yourself to go out when it's grey, windy, cold, and rainy. But keeping warm comes with a price - a steep one. Heating an entire house is expensive, and energy bills often peak during these bleak winter months. Here are our tips for keeping your house warm for the lowest possible cost:

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1. Adjust your thermostat Image title

Perhaps the most obvious idea on this list, simply adjusting your thermostat so your heat pump or furnace doesn't run as frequently or as long can save you tons of money. It is recommended that you set your thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. If you've still got a chill, instead of turning up the heat, simply layer up with a sweater or add more blankets to your bed at night. Another suggestion is to lower the temperature to 60 degrees during the day if you know you'll be away from the house for more than 4 hours - simply set it back to 68 when you return. Some thermostats will even let you program your settings to adjust temperature automatically during certain hours of the day.

2. Get the most our of your fireplace Image title

If you've layered up on blankets and sweaters but you're still a bit cold, then maybe it's time to start up your fireplace for the season. Sitting down in front of a crackling fire watching the flames dance with your family is one of the best parts of the cold winter months. Here's a few tips to get maximum enjoyment out of your fireplace:

  • Inspect your fireplace every year before your use it for the first time. We might suggest getting a professional to do so, but we know that's not always the most practical thing to do. Make sure everything looks to be in place and sweep out any old ashes and dust, and you should be good to go.
  • Close the flue when not in use - this will prevent heat from leaving your home, thereby saving you money.
  • Prevent fire embers from escaping with a glass door or mesh screen. This will reduce the  risk of house fire.
  • Do not use flammable liquids, trash, or cardboard boxes in a fireplace
  • Do not leave fire unattended
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy, just in case

3. Reduce the risk of fire Image title

Keeping warm and conserving energy is fun and all, but of course, you shouldn't let that come in the way of staying safe. A house fire is definitely no way to save money! Holiday lights and space heaters are often in use during these winter months, but even with all of the fun they offer, they also pose some safety risks. Here's what you should watch out for:

Holiday lights:

  • Don't overload outlets. If you need to use more than one electrical cord in a single location (we get it - it's easy to get excited with your Christmas decorating), use extension cords.
  • Don't link more light strands together than what the directions suggest. Overloading the circuit could spark a fire.
  • Be careful when using older lights. Consider replacing strands more than 5 years old with something newer - not only do you often get a safer product, but, with new LED lights, you also get more something energy efficient.

Space heaters:

  • Never use an extension cord. Always plug a space heater directly into the outlet.
  • Turn the space heater off when leaving the room for more than a few minutes, when going to bed, or when leaving the house. Better safe than sorry.
  • Place the pace heater in an open area, at least three feet away from anything flammable - bed sheets, curtains, furniture, etc.
  • Consider purchasing a space heater with a safety feature that automatically shuts it off if tipped over.

The winter months can be a fun time to relax at home, but it can be expensive to keep warm during these times. Hopefully, these tips will help you reduce costs while still enjoying a cozy house. Happy winter!

Is your old home just not doing it for you this winter season? Consider buying a new one! Here's some of what's available in the local Central KY area.