Colorado Springs, Colorado (NAPSI) - Colder weather does not have to cast a chill on your energy budget. By winterizing your home, you can enjoy increased warmth and comfort and lower your heating costs, which can significantly increase energy savings.

Here are some steps you can take:

• Caulk, patch or weather-strip any areas around windows and doors that might allow cold air in or warm air out. Your fireplace, too, is a source of heat loss, so close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.

• Put storm windows in place. New, insulated glass windows can provide important energy savings. However, if you cannot afford new windows, consider covering older windows with plastic sheeting.

• Check insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels (measured in R-values) recommended for your area. It’s also wise to insulate water heaters and pipes to minimize heat loss.

• Replace or clean filters in your heating unit to improve airflow and efficiency.

• Schedule an inspection of your system by a heating professional. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces need annual tune-ups; gas-fired equipment can be serviced every other year. Professional technicians are usually trained to detect leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires.

• Next, take advantage of a programmable thermostat and set the temperature lower when you’re away or sleeping.

• Finally, if you need to replace your home heating unit, consider a new furnace or heat pump that meets standards for high efficiency, measured as annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) for furnaces and heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) for heat pumps. The higher the AFUE or HSPF, the more efficient the unit and the more likely you are to save energy and money.

Look for ENERGY STAR®-recognized furnaces, like those from the York® brand of Johnson Controls, to help reduce your utility bills. To learn more, visit