The Farmer’s Almanac is forecasting a long and “very, very cold” winter in 2019 for Canada and the US, but just because the temperature’s dropping doesn’t mean your utility bills should be rising. Here are some tips for staying warm (and keeping your energy costs down) during the coldest, darkest months of the year.

Seal Air Leaks

Small cracks throughout your home can add up to the energy use equivalent of having a window open -- which is why it’s important to seal any air leaks before the super frigid weather rolls in. Weatherstripping foam around doors and windows can help create an air-tight seal, while a new door sweep is an inexpensive option to ensure you’re keeping the warm air in. Caulking around window frames can also help keep cold air out, as can outlet gaskets placed inside any electrical outlets on the exterior walls of your home.

Open Curtains and Shades

One of the best ways to bring some free heat into your home is to open the curtains and shades -- especially on south-facing windows. Although daylight hours are shorter during the winter, even a brief stint of sunlight can bring the temperature in your home up a few degrees for a more comfortable feel. Just be sure to close them when the sun sets to help keep that warmth indoors. And don’t forget that warm air rises, so the temperature will be more comfortable upstairs than in your basement.

Check Your Ceiling Fan

Because warm air rises, you could be leaving a lot of valuable heat near the ceiling of your home. This is why experts recommend running any ceiling fans at a low speed in a clockwise direction during the winter months, in order to help push that warm air back down. Doing so can help to lower heating costs by as much as 15%.

Invest in LED Holiday Lights

Compared to traditional holiday lights, LED styles use anywhere from 25-80% less energy, making them a smart buy for those who want to celebrate the spirit of the season without blowing their holiday budget on the utility bill. They also last up to 25 times longer than incandescent versions. Keep an eye out for sales close to Christmas Day and New Years, as you can score a great price on a sweet string of LED holiday lights for next year.

Put on Your Ugly Holiday Sweater

A simple yet effective strategy, putting on a cozy sweater can help you feel warmer and more comfortable without reaching to turn up the thermostat. Plus, it gives you an excuse to wear that ugly holiday sweater to more than just the handful of holiday parties on your calendar. Add in a pair of wool socks or fleecy slippers, and you’ll feel nice and toasty in no time at all.

Bake Something

Winter weather is the perfect time for enjoying a tasty holiday cookie or a rich, slow-cooked stew or roast. Turning on the oven provides additional heat to the kitchen, especially if you opt not to run your vent fan while baking and leave all that heat you’re using to cook in the home. Another great way to make use of residual heat from an everyday activity is to shower with the bathroom door open. This lets any heat in the air from the hot water make its way throughout your home. As an added bonus, any steam will add moisture back into the uncomfortably dry winter air.

Other Heat-Saving Tips

Another way to cut down on energy costs during the winter is to ensure that your home’s heating vents are kept clear of obstructions such as carpets and furniture, and that they’re cleaned regularly. Don’t forget to replace the air filter on your furnace for added energy efficiency.

If your home has a fireplace, ensure the damper is closed when you aren't using it. And while burning a fire can help warm up your home, keep in mind that the damper must remain open while any coals are smouldering, which means warm air is going right up and out the chimney.

Don’t forget to check the Flipp app to get all your cold weather-busting tools at the best price. Download the app to browse your local ads for inspiration or search for the items you need to plan your shopping trip.