With finances tight, everyone seems to be looking to save money this coming winter according to Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“No one thing will magically cut energy expenses a lot, but attention to many little things can all help add up to greatly-reduced costs,” said Schultheis.

The place to start is with the biggest energy wasters in the home. In many cases, a person can spend less than $100 and cut their utility bill by at least 25 percent with these basic actions.

Energy savings tips

First, insulate the water heater in the home if it’s warm to the touch on the outside. “It is a good idea to turn your water heater down to 120 130 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Schultheis.

Second, weather-strip exterior door and window gaps to reduce heat loss. “A one-eighth inch wide gap around a door is the same as a six-inch diameter hole through it,” said Schultheis.

Third, install foam gaskets under electrical outlet plates on exterior walls and put plastic plugs in unused sockets to reduce cold air invasion.

Fourth, caulk all outside joints where dissimilar materials meet. Use acrylic latex tube caulk and expandable foam to fill the gaps. “Do this is in places like where wood meets masonry and where pipes go through concrete,” said Schultheis.

Fifth, give the home furnace its annual tune-up and change or clean the filter.

Sixth, put tight-fitting doors on fireplaces to slow heat loss.

Seventh, put foil tape or air duct sealant on HVAC metal ductwork joints.

Eighth, check to make sure you have the recommend insulation levels in your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the minimum insulation levels for Missouri and northern Arkansas homes are R-49 to R-60 in the ceilings, R-13 to R-21 in walls, and R 25 to R-30 in floors over crawlspaces. Insulation is measured in R-value or resistance to flow of heat. Higher numbers are better.

“When you are making this upgrades remember, you’re not saving any money until you have recaptured the money you spent to do the energy conservation measure,” said Schultheis.