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When the cold-weather chill hits, there’s nothing quite like coming home to a toasty house. But, ugh, your heating bills last winter were too damn high. Here, seven precautions to take now to help offset the cost of keeping your thermostat up.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Save Money on Your Electric Bill

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Open the Curtains

On a sunny day, pulling back the blinds on any south-facing windows is the most natural (and cheap) way to heat your home. Just be sure to close them again at night to limit the cold-window chill.

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Invest in Energy Efficient Window Treatments

For example, roman shades versus venetian blinds. It’s all about curtain density so interior heat—that you’re shelling out big bucks for—doesn’t escape.

RELATED: A Super-Handy Guide to Window Treatments

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Add Weather Stripping Around Drafty Doors

For a grand total of $4, you can tape up any spots where you detect an air leak. (In most cases, you’ll be able to feel a cool breeze coming in with your hand. Or you can jiggle the doorframe—if it’s loose, you’re at risk of drafts.)

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...And Seal Off Cold-Weather Leaks With Plastic

Another cheap repair—it’s just $5 for a window insulation kit. All you have to hang the sheets over the frame indoors.

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Lower Your Thermostat—Especially While You Sleep

Dropping it as little as five to 10 degrees (say from 73 to 63 at night) can lower your annual energy bill by as much as 10 percent. To make up the difference, just throw on an extra blanket or invest in sheets with a higher thread count for winter snoozing. (The higher the thread count, the greater the warmth.) 

RELATED: 6 Ways to Organize Your Bedroom for Better Sleep

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Check Your Chimney

When you’re not using your fireplace, an open damper can make the difference between a living room that’s warm and one that’s frigid. (We repeat: When your fireplace is in use, the damper should always be open to let smoke escape.)

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Schedule a Check-Up for Your Heating System

The cost of an HVAC technician making a house call can run you anywhere from $40 to $250. But depending on the age of your furnace, a check-up to make sure everything is tip-top condition could be worth it if it shaves dollars off your monthly bill. Just be sure you get an estimate before any repair work begins. 

RELATED: 7 Home Renovations You’ll Get Your Money Back On

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