2. It's Closed-Flue Season, so Minimize Those Romantic Fires

An open fireplace damper lets the same amount of heated air escape up the chimney as a wide-open 48-inch window lets out. Make sure your flu is closed when you don't have a fire going. In fact, it is a good idea to reduce the number of times you use your fireplace. A roaring fire exhausts over 20,000 cubic feet of heated air per hour to the outside. Sure it feels warm by the fire, but every Btu that goes up the chimney is replaced by cold air pulled into the house elsewhere. And all that cold air has to be heated, a costly prospect. Can't resist a fire every few nights? Install a set of glass fireplace doors ($400 to $600). Closing these doors when you go to bed prevents large volumes of heated air in the living space from escaping after the fire has gone out.

Cost: $0

3. The Spin on Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are everywhere in warm-weather climates. Spinning counterclockwise, they move air around the room. Not all energy experts feel it's a good idea to use them in the heating season (doubters says they cool the air too much), but the fans do help bring heated air down to earth in rooms with cathedral or high-sloped ceilings. However, that's only if you slide the reversing switch on the side of the motor housing to the winter (clockwise) position. Then run the fan at its lowest speed. If you can't reverse the blade rotation or if you think the fan is cooling off the room too much, leave it off.

Cost: $0

Move Furniture Away From Vents, Registers, and Radiators

This sounds like a no-brainer, but many times a couch, chair, or bed moved during the summer stays there in winter, blocking the flow of heat into the room. This wastes money and leads to cold rooms. With a forced-air system, blocking a supply or return vent can cause a house-wide pressure imbalance that disrupts the heat flow in the whole system.

Cost: $0

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