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Expect higher heating bills this winter, but a few simple tricks could lessen the blow

The Energy Information Administration says the average U.S. household will spend 30% to 50% more on heating this winter.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Whether you love it or hate it, winter is coming, but there is one thing I think we all can agree on, heat isn’t cheap.

This is the time of year when heating bills go sky high, and this year will be even worse with supply chain issues and higher oil prices.

The Energy Information Administration recently announced the average U.S. household will spend an extra 30-50% on their heating bill this winter.

But there are a few things you can do to lessen the blow.

Stacy Boots Camp is an outreach manager at the Center for Energy and Environment.

She says small, simple changes, can quickly add up and lead to big savings.

"You know, caulking around windows and using window film to make their homes feel less drafty,” Boots Camp says.

"Just making sure there isn't furniture in front of the registers so that the heat is getting efficiently where you want it to be."

Other cheap tricks include weather stripping your doors and cleaning out your dryer vent to save money on drying your clothes.

But by far the best way to save money, insulation.

“Nearly half a million homes in Minnesota have inadequate insulation,” Boots Camp says.

"Actually, before 1970, there is no guarantee that there is any insulation in the walls of that house. That's a big opportunity, because that would be like not putting on our jacket on a January day."

If you're not sure about your insulation, Stacy says it doesn't hurt to have it checked, and she can personally vouch for the amount of money you can save.

"We actually insulated our house this past year and our air conditioning bills were about half of what they've been every other year,” Boots Camp says.

And we can't have a heating story without talking about your thermostat.

Turning it down at night and when you're away is still a great way to save money.

And if you've ever thought about getting a smart thermostat you can adjust with your phone, now would be the perfect time to do it.

"Every degree that you turn it back will save 1% on your bill,” Boots Camp says.

But if checking your insulation, or installing a smart thermostat seems too complicated or too much work, the Home Energy Squad will do it for you.

Boots Camp says they have trained technicians who will come to your home, or meet virtually, to check and see where you can save the most money.

"The visit is about two to three hours long. They do a blower door test, which measures the air tightness of the house. They look at the insulation levels in the attic and the walls and then write up a very detailed report,” Boots Camp explains.

And they'll even give you quotes so you know right away how much it will cost to get something fixed.

Boots Camp says the home visits cost less than $100, but for most people your city or utility will pay for some or all of it.

If you’re interested in learning more about a home assessment from the Home Energy Squad, click here.