Go Green and Spend Less Green This Winter

If your home isn't energy efficient, staying warm during the winter months may cost you. One way to determine why your utility bill is so high is to first find out how exactly your home is being heated. Heat pumps are generally more efficient than furnaces.

"If you're not sure whether or not you have a heat pump, what you can do is go ahead and turn up the heat. If your outside unit turns on, you have a heat pump. If you have a furnace or other device it's going to be inside the home," says Nicole Aiello of electric utility Santee Cooper.

One of the biggest culprits for a high utility bill is air leakage. Check for leaks around windows to see if cold air is entering your home. Insulated windows help separate the cold air outside fromm the warm air inside the home.

"One of the things you can do is find a shiny object like a quarter and put it up against the window. See what kind of reflection that gets. If you have one reflection then you have a single pain window, if you have two reflections of that you have a double pained or an insulated window," says Aiello.

Window treatments also help you go green. If your windows face the sun, keep the drapes open during the day to warm the home naturally.

"If you have cobwebs that normally get in your home in the same places, take a look at those areas and make sure you don't have an air leak," says Aiello.

Your pipes may need some extra attention too.

"If the hole around that pipe is really big and your pipe is small, you're going to want to put some insulation around that, because that's actually going to help keep your house more energy efficient,"Aiello says.

Kitchen appliances, especially the refrigerator, are big energy consumers. Always try to keep your refrigerator at least seventy five percent full. If it's not in your budget to fill it with food, there is another option. Filling jugs with water can help fill the extra space.

Child proof outlet covers can also eliminate cold air entering the home.

Now you can stay warm, but not spend a fortune during the chilly winter months.