Keeping Your Household Warm on a Budget This Winter

( — With the average cost of home heating projected to remain at near-record highs this winter, USA Today offered a few tips on how to keep warm while reducing home heating bills.

There are a variety of ways to cut costs and increase efficiency. USA Today recommends having your furnace inspected before the cold weather begins. While the cost of an inspection can range from $150 to $500, in the long run, ensuring that your furnace is running efficiently will save you money.

Furnace inspections include checking for safety issues, cleaning ducts, and replacing dirty filters.

The Department of Energy recommends the thermostat be set at 68 degrees to properly warm a home in cold weather.

When you are going to be away from home, turn the thermostat down.

According to the US Department of Energy’s Ram Narayanamurthy, it is also wise to lower the thermostat at night when everyone is asleep. He said when you are out of town or at night, lower the thermostat by about 6 degrees so the furnace isn’t kicking on as often when the heat isn’t needed.

At the same time, Narayanamurthy recommends that your thermostat not be set too low. He warned against setting the thermostat lower than 60 degrees. He said the goal should be to keep your home at a reasonable temperature that isn’t too chilly.

The World Health Organization recommends that healthy individuals keep the thermostat between 64 and 75. For homes with very young or very old residents or those with health problems, the WHO recommends that the temperature never drop below 68 degrees.

USA Today also recommends investing in a smart thermostat.

Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi-enabled and connect to smartphones. This provides homeowners with the option to set their thermostats while away from home.

According to Consumer Reports, an Energy Star-certified smart thermostat can save a homeowner on average about 8 percent in annual heating and cooling bills.

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