While the calendar technically says it's still autumn, the last few days have been a key reminder that winter is coming here, and it's pretty much downhill from here in the temperatures and snow department.

Whether we like it or not, we really only have two seasons here in Western New York; it's either winter time or time to get ready for winter. But, one thing we must be concerned about as colder temperatures begin to arrive in Buffalo is fuel costs.

Over the last couple of years, New York residents have seen heating prices increase significantly year over year. Now, there is some financial help for many New Yorkers with programs like HEAP, but even with that help, heating costs will burden many families as we may be on the verge of a heating crisis in the Empire State.

While we can not do much about the price of natural gas, propane, and heating oil on the open market, there are several things we can do to help become more efficient with our fuel usage, and that can help control your bills this winter.

What Are Some Tips To Help Lower Heating Bills

Dad might have had a few ideas of ways you could save on winter costs; trying some of these tips may have a real impact on your usage, and that will, in turn, help lower your monthly bills.

Opening and Then Closing Your Window Coverings

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Even in the winter, we get a lot of kinetic energy from the sun, and if you do not have high-efficiency windows in your home, opening your curtains and blinds during the day will help warm your home, and then closing them at night will help you retain some of that heat.

Add Some Window or Door Insulation

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Do you remember those days when your grandparents used to make you help put plastic sheeting up to their windows? Well, they were on to something; adding some insulation and weather stripping to your doors and windows will help keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

Turn Down Your Water Heater

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You'd be surprised how much energy it takes to keep the water in your water heater warm. Turning it down a few degrees will go a long way to lowering your energy bill in the winter.

Change Your Furnace Filter

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When you have a clogged filter, your furnace has to work harder to circulate air throughout your home; that extra work means more electricity to run the furnace and then burning more gas, propane, or heating oil to create the heat. Go ahead and change that filter and help things run more efficiently.

Lower Your Thermostat

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Just lowering your thermostat by 1 degree can make a major difference in your energy usage over time. Plus, using an electronic or programmable thermostat can help you heat your house only when you need to.

Don't Use Your Bathroom Fan

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Your bathroom fan does a great job of removing certain smells from your bathroom, but it also does a great job of pulling heat out of your house as well. Using your bathroom fan only when you need to will make a big difference.

Do you have any tips that can be used to reduce heating costs?

A Winterization Checklist to Ready Your Home for the Cold

You can do the majority of these essential tasks on a weekend by yourself and most don’t require a lot of money to complete. Not up to the task? Hire someone handy to do it all. Whatever you decide, they're important winterization steps for all homeowners and by following them your home will be ready for winter and your family more comfortable. And, you’ll save a few bucks to boot. 

Gallery Credit: Paul Drake

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Stacker created a list of 50 cozy American towns to visit each winter. Towns were selected based on visitor opinions, ratings from nationwide publications, and tourist attractions.

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