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Little Ways to Save Energy This Winter (Plus one big one)

energy
Kristin Shaw
  • On February 10, 2015
  • http://blogs.hrblock.com/author/kristin-shaw/

Call it what you will – frigid, blustery, chilly. This time of year, the Midwest is cold. There’s just no escaping it.

Unfortunately, that can also mean there’s no escaping the high costs that often come with keeping your house warm and toasty.

Here are a few small, simple things you can do right now to help keep your energy costs down.

Utilize Your Curtains

If you get a lot of sun on one side of the house during the day, throw back the curtains or shades to let it shine in – along with its natural warmth. For other windows, invest in insulated blackout curtains to help keep the cold out.

Program your thermostat

Using a programmable thermostat can net you $108 of savings in a year, according to EnergyStar. Keep it set at “energy saving” levels during the day when no one is home. It’s more cost-effective to heat up a house than to keep it at the desired level all day long.

Look out for leaks

Cold air can push its way in, especially around doors and windows. You can do something like caulking the cracks, but I prefer super-simple solutions like this draft guard when it is too cold to tackle “home improvement” projects.

Avoid energy vampires

No, not that kind of vampire. This refers to the power that is expended to continuously charge electronic devices, even when you aren’t using them.  Lauren Klein, of Organic Authority, recommends using a power strip to solve this problem.

“Unplugging a room full of devices can be time consuming,” she said. “Plugging all your devices into a power strip is an easy answer, because every time you leave the room you only have one button to turn off.”

Invest in energy efficient home improvements

OK, this one isn’t as easy or affordable. However, if you invest in certain energy efficient upgrades, you can make a big difference in how much you pay to heat your home. That could be new windows, certain roofs, heat pumps and more. In 2014, The Tax Increase Prevention Act (TIPA) provides a credit to homeowners who made qualified upgrades. Although it has not yet been extended for 2015, this credit has been renewed several times in the last few years. And even if you can’t claim a tax credit for the improvement next year, you will still reap the benefits of a more energy efficient home.

Need more help determining what credits or deductions you might be able to claim when you file your 2014 taxes this year? Nebraska Furniture Mart has a great selection of H&R Block Tax Software.  The H&R Block product will ask you questions and lead you through the filing process, so you are sure to get every credit and deduction you qualify for.

Kristin’s bio (if needed): http://blogs.hrblock.com/author/kristin-shaw/

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