Each winter, as temperatures drop, the thermostat kicks into high gear and hot water becomes a hot commodity. It’s a time for holiday cheer and entertaining, which often results in greater electricity and natural gas usage.

Fortunately, a few simple moves can go a long way in saving energy this winter.

  1. Don’t idle, just drive

Many people think that in the dead of winter, a car’s engine needs to idle for a few minutes to “warm up.” Not so. In fact, your engine warms as quickly in drive as when idling in a driveway. Using synthetic motor oils like Mobil 1 Annual Protection can also help car engines run smoothly, even when it’s snowing.

  1. Perfectly warm water

Heating water makes up 18 percent of your home’s energy use, but you rarely need scalding hot water. To save energy, adjust water heater settings to a lower temperature.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, setting your water heater to 120°F can result in energy savings of up to 22 percent annually.

  1. Let your thermostat handle it

There is nothing more enjoyable than a nicely heated home, but is it necessary to keep the heater running during the day, when no one’s there? The short answer is no. Instead of manually moderating the temperature, install a programmable thermostat that can automatically increase the temperature during times when people are home and dial it down by a few degrees when people are out. Over the course of a year, a programmable thermostat can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs.

  1. Close the fireplace damper

Fireplaces are common sources of energy inefficiency in homes. If there’s not a fire, but the damper is open, heat can easily escape, and there’s no barrier to keep cold air out. Don’t forget to close the damper once you’re done using the chimney. If you don’t use your fireplace, consider taking steps to permanently seal the chimney so you don’t need to worry about heat leaking out.

  1. Decorate with LED lights

Planning to outdo your neighbor with holiday light decor? Whether you’re just wrapping your Christmas tree or the entire house, do it with new LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. They use 80 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs can last up to 25 times longer than incandescent ones, making them more convenient and less costly.


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