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Tips for keeping your house warm, and saving money, during extreme cold

It's going to be seriously cold in Minnesota this week.

There's cold, and then there's stupid cold, and Minnesota is getting a dose of stupid cold over the next several days.

And arguably the worst part about stupid cold is the heating bill that should arrive about a month from now, showing how much gas or electricity you used to stop yourself from becoming a popsicle.

To that end, we've done a bit of research and come up with a few tips to keep your house warm while saving yourselves a few bucks.

1. Keeping your curtains closed, except...

It's a bit depressing sitting in a gloomy house when it's sunny (but frozen) outside, but if you're out during the day then you should keep your curtains and blinds closed to add another obstacle for the cold to overcome.

The exception to this, as Today's Home Owner explains, is when the windows are in direct sunlight, in which case you should throw them open and take advantage of the greenhouse effect through your windows.

2. Keep your vents/radiators clear

If you have furniture in front of your forced air vent or radiators, move them.

If you block them then it just means your heating system will have to work harder to get the temperature up in your house – costing you more in the process.

3. Cheap insulation

It may cost you a few bucks, but it'll probably save you more if you buy some basic home insulation kits.

We're talking sheet plastic window insulation for the inside of your windows, and foam seals for the inside of electrical outlets and exterior walls.

It's also a good time to check how much weather stripping you have on your doors and windows, and re-apply some where necessary. 

Draft snakes are something else to consider for window sills and under the door to an unheated garage, for example, or a closet with an external wall.

If you have walls that aren't well insulated, get an old blanket and duct-tape it to the wall to provide another insulating barrier.

4. Closing off rooms

Got a room you don't use too much? Close the doors and vents in there for the winter, Common Sense Home notes, there's no sense heating it if you're not using it. That said, might be best not to do this in a room with plumbing in case the pipes freeze.

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5. Make use of your in-home heat sources

If you're baking something, leave the oven cracked when you're done so the heat enters your home as it cools down.

Same goes if you run a bath, don't drain the water immediately when it's finished, wait for it to cool first.

6. Make your house cosy

Rather than cranking the thermostat to 70-plus degrees, keep it a few degrees cooler and throw on some warm clothes. Reducing your thermostat a single degree can save you up to 10 percent on your heating bill, notes.

Make use of blankets whenever you sit down, and throw any unused rugs onto the floor to provide extra warmth.

7. The ceiling fan trick

As Xcel Energy points out, if you have a ceiling fan in your rooms, run it clockwise, that way it pushes down the warm air at the top of the room.

Oh, and if your house has fireplaces, make sure the dampers are closed when they're not in use.

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