Frugalizing Your Family: Heat

By Sysan Flynn

This winter's record-breaking oil prices are enough to send a chill down the spine of anyone in colder climates. Unlike the occasional movie or dinner out, keeping your family warm is not an optional budget item. But there's wiggle room in just how warm you keep the family.

Turning down the temperature just a few degrees can save money. Consistently lowering it 10 degrees at night can reduce bills by 10 to 20 percent, according to the EnergyIdeas Clearinghouse (, a resource managed by Washington State University and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

Amy Allen Clark, founder of and a mother of two, recommends a programmable thermostat. She uses an electric blanket on her bed and flannel sheets. She's also a fan of space heaters, which may add to the electric bill, but still offer a net savings on heating costs.

"Another thing is to act like it's winter," she says. "People don't dress appropriately for the season."

Click here to search for the best prices on anything...More ideas:

  • Weatherstrip and caulk windows and doors. McCoy says this step can save 30 percent off the heating bill every month.

  • Use extra blankets on the beds and drape them over couches.

  • Pull curtains over windows at night.

  • Get a furnace tune-up every year. The dirtier the filters, the harder the furnace has to work.

  • Make sure your home is insulated properly. Many utility companies offer free energy-efficiency audits.

Check out more money saving tips below...

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