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Heating costs continue to rise, putting a big dent in bank accounts all across the Chicago area each and every winter. Here are some tips on how to reduce heating bills so the dent wont be quite as big this season.

1. Wear socks Your entire body feels cold when your feet are cold, so try and make it a point to wear socks around the house in winter. Also, instead of cranking up the heat, try bundling up in a blanket or sweater.

2. Make the most out of your existing heat When you take a shower, leave the bathroom door open if you can so that the steam can spread to other rooms. When you cook, try not to turn on the ventilation fan so that the heat can move throughout the home.

3. Lower the thermostat Even turning the thermostat down just a few degrees can result in electric savings of 10 percent and you wont notice a big difference. And when you leave your home, turn the temperature down significantly.

4. Turn down the water heater Similarly, if you turn the thermostat on your water heater down to around 120 degrees from 140 degrees, you wont notice a big difference in how hot your water gets.

5. Buy a programmable thermostat Another tip on how to reduce heating bills is by paying anywhere from $30 to $120 for a programmable thermostat. That may sound like a lot, but you will make that back over the course of a year because your bills will drop. This type of thermostat will allow you to adjust the heat on a planned schedule so that you can lower your heat when youre sleeping or not at home.

6. Seal the heat in Keep your windows and doors shut when the heat is running. If you have a fireplace that you dont use that often, close the flue and the glass doors to minimize the loss of heat.

7. Get your heating system checked If your system is properly maintained, your system will run more efficiently and you will save money. You should have a pro check an electric or oil heater once a year and a gas heater every other year. Also, make sure the heating system filters are clear and clean.