Seven tips on how to keep your electricity bill low this winter

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The sub-zero temperatures and the dusky afternoons are really not your thing. So, you crank up the heat and turn on all your lights.

"Ha! In your face, winter," you say.

You feel so elated that you've forgotten all about the bubbly man who brings you your monthly electricity bill. You've come to call him Scrooge. He really burns you up.

Here are seven energy-efficient, home-heating and lighting tips to help keep your bills low this winter, especially around holiday party time, from BC Hydro:

1. Draft-proof your home

Sealing the gaps and cracks with caulking and weather stripping is one of the most cost-effective steps you can take to keep the heat inside your home, reducing heat loss by up to 10 per cent.

2. Install a programmable thermostat

Most people are comfortable sitting reading or watching TV at 21 degrees C, working around the house at 20 degrees C, and sleeping at 16 degrees C. Heating costs rise about 5 per cent for every degree above 20 degrees C that you set your thermostat.

3. Shade your windows

Using blinds or drapes on your windows provide insulation in the winter and summer. Heat loss from windows can account for 10 – 25 per cent of your heating bill in winter.

4. Maintain your heating system

Tune up your heating equipment and continue to give it regular maintenance in order to increase its energy efficiency.

5. Add or upgrade insulation

Upgrading your heating system might make your home warmer, but if it can't hold the heat in, you'll be wasting energy. Start in areas that lose the most heat, such as attics, basements and crawlspaces.

6. Ensure your fireplace is efficient

With wood-burning fireplaces, close the damper tightly when the fireplace is not in use. This can dramatically reduce heat loss. If you use the fireplace only occasionally, install glass doors. They act as a barrier against warm air loss up the chimney and stop the pull of cold outside air into the home.

7. Use energy-efficient lighting

LEDs use at least 75 per cent less energy than incandescent lighting and can last about 20 years based on average household use. ENERGY STAR LEDs come on quickly, are durable and good for dimming.

Space-heating costs alone make up 40 to 50 per cent of the average electricity bill, depending on how customers heat their homes, according to BC Hydro news release.

For more energy-efficient tips, go here. Look for incentives available through

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