Winter is fast approaching. And that means it's time to examine the many ways you can conserve energy and cut costs. Below is a checklist of tips AARP recently published as part of its just-launched Operation Energy Save program:

  1. Close the heat vents and the doors in rooms that aren't being used.
  2. Make sure all windows are fully closed. Lock double-hung windows to minimize drafts coming through older windows.
  3. Shut fireplace dampers to prevent heated air from going up the chimney when you're not using the fireplace. Be sure all embers are out.
  4. Clean registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators, and be sure that they're not blocked by curtains, furniture, or carpeting.
  5. Lower the temperature on the water heater to 120 degrees. Reducing the temperature by 20 degrees can save you nearly $50 a year.
  6. Replace or clean furnace air filters. A clogged, dirty filter forces your furnace to work harder. A clean filter can save you 10 percent on your bill.
  7. Remove window air conditioning units when the summer is over to prevent heat from escaping. If the unit can't be moved, cover it to prevent drafts.
  8. Use expanding foam (available in spray cans) to seal the gaps around pipes that connect to the house from the outside.
  9. Install weather stripping or caulk around doors and windows and place foam gaskets behind outlet plate covers on exterior walls. If there's a large gap at the bottom of an exterior door, install a door sweep.
  10. Seal and insulate ducts and joints with a non-hardening sealant. Ducts running through unfinished spaces (attics, crawl spaces, and garages) that aren't properly sealed and insulated can add 25 percent to your home's heating bill.

Learn more about AARP's Operation Energy Save program. In addition, The U.S. Department of Energy, and The Alliance to Save Energy also have useful tips to help you save energy and save money.

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