Staying warm is a major winter expense. Here's how to save money without frostbite.

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Are you looking for tips on how to save money on energy in the winter?  The typical American spends more than $2,000 on utilities each year — or somewhere between 5 and 22 percent of families’ income. Almost half of that is spent heating or cooling their home, especially during the cold season and warmer summer months.

Regionally, the costs can sometimes soar even higher, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A recent calculation by WalletHub of total energy costs — from filling up your car’s gas tank to home heating oil — reveals residents in Connecticut face the highest monthly bills averaging $380. Alaska, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin trailing only by the cost of a nice dinner.

Here are our BEST winter money savings tips on how to save money on energy in the winter!

1. How to set your thermostat to save money in the winter

Remember, setting it warmer won’t make the heater work any faster, so don’t set the temperature any higher than you want it. All that does is make your heater run longer which is not how to save money on energy in the winter.

If you can program your thermostat, do it. Some utility companies even offer rebates when you install an HVAC system with a thermostat that’s programmable or WiFi enabled.

Whether you program the thermostat or set it by hand, aim for 68 degrees or under when you wake and when you’re home in the evenings. Then drop that setting 7 to 10 degrees when you’re sleeping or out of the house at work. Allowing for those eight-hour setbacks can save you up to 10 percent a year on heating.

Note: These so-called “setback savings” vary by region. The milder the regions, the greater the savings — because your machinery it doesn’t have to battle the outdoor climate as hard for as long to reach the desired temperature indoors.

2. Let your heating system breathe

Change out your air filters regularly. Energy Star recommends monthly. Vacuum vents and registers regularly. Dirty filters make heating systems work harder. And if they work harder, they also die faster. You’re extending the life of your system.

This one can save 5 to 15 percent on your utility costs, says the Department of Energy.

3. Run the ceiling fan in reverse

A clockwise-turning fan at a low speed will push naturally rising warm air down along the walls and back to the floor.

Savings here will depend on the size of the room. To get the most benefit, run the fan only when people are in the room. Running a ceiling fan all of the time works against you and your wallet, hiking your electric bill.

4. Let the sunshine in, but not the cold air

Leave blinds or drapes open on sunny days, but close them at night to help insulate the house.

As for those drafts, there are multiple ways to keep warm air from escaping and cold getting in: Try weather-stripping and door snakes (not the reptiles, but rather those weighted fabric tubes). Desperate? Use a rolled up towel. Tight seals and added insulation can deliver up to $200 in heating and cooling savings.

5. Don’t let the heat go up in smoke

If you have a fireplace, get the chimney cleaned and inspected regularly. When the fire is burning, turn down the temperature in nearby rooms lest the warm air escape. And when the fire is out, make sure the damper is closed. If you have glass doors to the fireplace, close them, too.

Make sure to check out our Money Tips section for more ways to save money! Also, check out this post on how you can start saving money on your cell phone bill without breaking your contract. Get out of debt and start saving more money this year!

About the Author’s writers are journalists, personal finance experts, and certified credit counselors. Their advice about money – how to make it, how to save it, and how to spend it – is based on, collectively, a century of personal finance experience. They’ve been featured in media outlets ranging from The New York Times to USA Today, from Forbes to FOX News, and from MSN to CBS.

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