The coldest days of winter are fast approaching. Grumbling about how miserably cold it is will soon be heard throughout the city. As if the bitter cold and wind chills weren’t punishment enough for Calgarians, utility bills increase significantly in the winter, which is bad news for your bank account. But fear not! There are steps that can be taken to winterize your home and make winter utility payments more bearable. Most of these tips are cost-effective and can easily be done yourself.

Utility bills commonly skyrocket because of leaks around doors or windows. You won’t need to hire a professional to check for this problem, as it’s simple to do on your own. Light a match or candle and trace around the window or door frame. If it blows out, it’s likely leaking. The best ‘cheap’ fix for drafty windows is to buy an insulation kit, and the cost is typically $5 per window. Simply apply the plastic covering using the provided tape, then use a blow dryer to shrink the plastic and the covering will become transparent. The best solution for leaky doors is to install weatherstripping around the frame.

Open your blinds and curtains during the day to allow sun to shine in and warm your living space, and you’ll save your furnace some work in the process. Don’t forget to close them at night to keep as much heat in as possible.

A programmable thermostat is a great way to prevent unnecessary heating of your home while you’re away or sleeping. The thermostat can be set to heat up the house just before you get home or wake up and to maintain a minimum temperature to prevent freezing at other times.

You can also cut down energy consumption by replacing incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs or reducing the wattage in some bulbs from 60 to 30. Also, ensure your water heater is set to no more than 120 degrees and use an insulation blanket to prevent heat loss.