Customers can expect their electricity use to go up as winter approaches. Increased use means higher bills, but you can minimize this increase by taking the following steps.

Add insulation. Most locations in IREA’s service territory should have a minimum rating of R38 to R60 in the attic, which is about 13” to 20” of loose-fill, blown-in insulation. Consider fully insulating your garage, especially if there is a living space above it. Also insulate the walls of any crawl spaces.

Reevaluate your home’s temperature. Lowering your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees while you’re out of the house can save you up to 10% each year.

Seal air leaks throughout your home. They are often found around pipes and outlets, as well as dryer vents and unfinished spaces. Add caulk or weather-stripping to seal the leaks. Window drafts can be reduced by clear plastic film affixed with double-sided sticky tape. Seal the plastic tightly by shrinking it with a hair dryer. Insulating drapes and cellular shades can also reduce cold air infiltration.

Have your heating system serviced to keep it operating efficiently. Change the furnace filter as recommended.

Use holiday lights that are LED. If you already put up non-LED lights, bring them to us instead of throwing them out and we will recycle them. Make sure any new lights you buy are LED, which are up to 90% more efficient.

Reduce through your fireplace. Keep the damper closed when you don’t have a fire going. A heat-air exchange system and tempered glass doors can more effectively heat the room. Plug and seal the chimney flue if you don’t use your fireplace.

Take advantage of sunny days by opening the curtains and blinds on south-facing windows. They will naturally heat your home. Close them at night to keep the outside cold from infiltrating.

Consider purchasing a smart or programmable thermostat. The most popular models cost around $200, but reduce heating and cooling use by an estimated 10% to 15% and pay for themselves within two years.