Winter Energy EfficiencyConnecticut winters can be brutally cold at times, leaving homeowners with expensive heating bills and extra unnecessary stress.

Here are five energy efficiency tips to keep your home warm during the cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to help increase your savings, while others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.

1. Cover drafty windows or consider replacing. Drafty windows can pose a real threat to any home that is looking to become energy efficient.

Covering drafty windows is a simple step towards making your home more energy efficient. To cover drafty windows, use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Sealing the plastic tightly to the frame will help reduce infiltration of cold air. Also, it may be beneficial to install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that still feel drafty after weatherizing. For older homes, consider replacing worn windows with new energy efficient windows.

2. Adjust the temperature.

Adjusting the temperature is the simplest way to reduce winter home heating costs. When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. Also, you can save around ten percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees while you are asleep or out of the house. Consider investing in flannel sheets and a warm comforter for your bed and keeping your apartment cooler when you sleep.

3. Find and seal leaks.

During the cold winter months, it is important to find and seal leaks. Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Areas such as attic, garage, doors, and unused rooms should be closed tightly when they are not in use as there is no use of heating those areas. Also, it is often beneficial to add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows. A qualified contractor can also help you test for leaks and seal them, and can also add insulation to your attic and walls if needed.

4. Maintain your heating system.

Many CT homes are heated with either furnaces or boilers. Furnaces heat air and distribute the heated air through the house using ducts. Boilers heat water, and provide either hot water or steam for heating. Upgrading to a high efficiency furnace or boiler is an effective way to save money on home heating.

Scheduling service for your heating system is the easiest way to save money on maintaining your heating system. For those who own furnaces, you can maintain your equipment by replacing your furnace filter once a month or as needed. Proper maintenance will extend the life of your furnace  or boiler.

Before purchasing a new furnace or boiler or modifying your current unit, first make every effort to improve the energy efficiency of your home, and then have a heating contractor size your furnace. Energy-efficiency improvements will save money on a new furnace or boiler, because you can purchase a smaller unit.

5. Use Ceiling Fans to Your Advantage.

Homes that have better ventilation and airflow can often be more energy efficient in the winter months. If you have ceiling fans in your home, you have more control over air ventilation than you might know. Ceiling fans can be used to achieve better airflow. Adjusting your fan to spin clockwise will trap heat inside to keep your rooms warmer during cooler months. Turn your ceiling fan on a low setting to gently push hot air down.