Cold weather is here and you’re probably wondering how to pay less for heating than you did last year.

You could buy an energy audit for a detailed diagnosis of your home, or you could do a few things yourself that could lower energy costs significantly.

  • Check your heating and cooling ducts. If they leak, as much as 30 percent of your heat might be lost. You can cover accessible ducts with metal tape, mastic sealant or duct tape. Adding insulation around the ducts is inexpensive and can save money also.
  • Change your furnace filters! And do it every few months. That will save you money on the system you have today. When the furnace needs replacing, consider an Energy-Star-certified model. It could cut power bills.
  • Check the insulation in the attic. Floor insulation should stick up over the floor joists, says the EPA. If it’s below the joists, add more for energy saving.
  • Turn the water heater down to 120 degrees to save on energy use. Insulate the pipes and the heater itself with an insulating blanket to reduce heat loss.
  • Install a low-flow shower head and you’ll cut hot water use 25 percent.
  • Think about a programmable thermostat. They can be easy to install and save heating and cooling dollars.
  • And this tip is not about heating but about saving energy, as my mother would say “turn off that light if you’re not in the room”