Johnston: Ways to save on heating costs

This weekend, the temperature dropped into the single digits.

I was born and raised in South Florida, and I absolutely hate being cold.

I am almost ashamed to admit what my thermostat is set on right now (ahem, 72).

My inability to handle winter can definitely cost us some money with regard to the heating bills.

While this can put a strain on your wallet during the cold months, you can do certain things to save money on these expenses while still keeping your home warm.

Leaks in your windows and doors can allow warm air to escape and cold air to come inside.

Check your home for air leaks, and fill gaps and cracks with caulk or insulation.

Air can also escape through your chimney. When you are not using it for warmth, close your fireplace’s damper to keep in warmth.

Use area rugs on tile, wood or laminate floors to help trap in heat.

Sunlight, even in the winter, is a great way to add natural, free warmth to your home.

Open your blinds and curtains during the day, particularly on south-facing walls as they get the most exposure to the sun. As the sun sets, close them to help trap in the warmth.

I know our closest star has been elusive these past few weeks, but any time you see the sun popping out, take advantage of those moments to naturally warm up your home.

Those open sunny windows will also help with your mood, as many of us are susceptible to dampened spirits during the winter due to the lack of sunlight. So let the sun shine bright in your old Kentucky home whenever you can.

Turn your thermostat down when you leave the house for work or other extended periods of time. This keeps you from paying for heat you are not using.

When you return, set the thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting. For every degree you lower the thermostat, you can save about 3 percent on your heating costs.

I had trouble remembering to lower the thermostat when I was in a rush in the mornings, so we bought a programmable thermostat a few years ago (it was about $20) that we can set to change the temperature at certain times throughout the day. This has helped reduce our heating bill significantly.

There are also digital thermostats you can install that allow you to control the temperature in your home from your phone or other smart device.

If you can, wear layers of clothing inside and add extra blankets to your bed or to help you stay warmer while your thermostat is set to a lower temperature.

This is a struggle at my house because I already wear several layers of clothes when the thermostat is set on a temperature that is comfortable for others. I know some of you can relate (gloved high five to all you cold-natured folks).

Making these small changes in your home can make a huge impact on heating costs throughout the winter.

For more money-saving tips, contact the Clark County Extension Office at 859-744-4682.

Shonda Johnston is the Clark County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 859-744-4682 or by email at shonda.johnston@uky.edu.