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Top Tips for a Warmer Home During the Holidays

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Spending money seems to be an unavoidable aspect of winter holidays. And while you may have no qualms with dropping big bucks for a 20-pound free-range turkey, you may be less enthusiastic about paying more money this winter to heat your home.

If you heat your home with natural gas, expect to pay about 13 percent more than you did last year, and if you have electric heat, plan on your bill going up about two percent this winter. The good news is: You can offset higher heating costs when you put a little effort into weather-proofing your home.

Following are some ideas that can help you and your holiday guests stay warm this winter.

In the living room

You're paying good money for heat, so don't let it escape by way of leaky windows and doors. If you have old, single-pane windows, check for deteriorating caulking around windowpanes. As explained in the free ebook, The Cure for the Common Cold Room, replacing caulk is a simple project that won't take long. After adding caulk, you can use a window shrink-wrap kit to create an airtight seal.

Use weather-stripping around doors to reduce drafts, and if your home's layout allows for it, you could convert a side door into your main entrance during especially cold weather. Then when you have guests in your living room, they won't be blasted by cold air every time the front door opens.

A fireplace can add a lot of holiday charm to your living room, but use it sparingly -- the chimney draws up warm air and wastes it outside (which is why you may notice that other rooms in your home feel colder when the fireplace is in use).

In bedrooms

Will you be accommodating overnight guests during the holiday season? If so, furnish their rooms with lots of extra blankets, and perhaps a space heater for especially cold rooms. If you really want to make a great impression, put brand-new slippers in bedrooms for guests who might've forgotten to pack them.

Thermal curtains can help shield your guests from cold air as they sleep -- just make sure to open them on sunny days to allow sunlight in.

Everyday tips for other rooms

In the winter, ceiling fans should be set to rotate clockwise so they drive warm air toward the floor (and your guests). Use area rugs on hard floors to create a warmer surface on which to walk, and shut the vents in seldom-used rooms to divert more warm air to the rest of your home.

Installing a programmable thermostat can save you a lot of money in the winter. You can program it to keep your home cooler at night and begin warming your home in the morning. If you're traveling this holiday season, keep your thermostat on a low setting, but program it to begin heating your home before your return.

You shouldn't rely on your oven as a primary heat source, but if you're doing some holiday baking anyway, open the door when you've turned off the oven (provided no kids or pets are nearby), so the oven's warmth will fill your kitchen.

There are plenty of inexpensive ways to keep your home cozy in the winter, so don't worry too much about those higher heating costs -- you'll manage, and you'll have money left over to buy gifts, too.