For those who live in cold climates, winter can be an especially costly time of year. Between rising heat bills and increased energy costs, most consumers don’t look forward to those winter bills that seem to increase every year. While prices continue to rise, the good news is that you can achieve savings if you follow these easy tips:

1. Keep the Temperature Low

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll save a surprising amount of money simply by keeping your thermostat as low as you comfortably can. You can save even more money by turning it lower when you’re at work or away from the house. However, if you have pets, make sure that they’re comfortable and don’t get too cold.

A programmable thermostat is even more cost-effective, because you can pre-program these heating changes to take effect every day, instead of having to remind yourself to turn the heat down. Likewise, you can also save money by turning down the system temperature on your water heater.

2. Keep Your Heating System in Good Repair

One of the biggest ways to lose heat is to have a heating system that’s poorly maintained. By spending a few dollars on servicing and maintenance at the start of the season, you can save hundreds during the winter months. You’ll also want to clean the flue vents on your wood- or pellet-burning heaters, and replace your furnace filters about once a month.

3. Look for Leaks

If you’re feeling chilly in your home, chances are there are air leaks under your windows and doors. To seal these, simply add a bit of caulking along your door and window frames, or fill the gaps with inexpensive weather stripping from your home improvement store. A few dollars’ worth of caulk or stripping can help you save hundreds of dollars by the end of the season — and will make your home much more comfortable as well.

4. Use LED Lights

Of course, you tend to use more lights during the winter months, but those LED light bulbs can really help you save on your lighting costs. You’ll notice the difference during the holiday months, especially if you have a Christmas tree or strings of lights throughout the house. During the holiday season, be sure to choose LED light strings for all your decorating.

Winter doesn’t have to be the most expensive time of the year. By maintaining your heating system, keeping your thermostat low, using energy-friendly lights and patching up costly air leaks, you can be proactive in making a tremendous difference in your heating and energy bills throughout the winter months.