Fall officially arrived Sept. 22, and along with the arrival of the spectacular fall colors many of us love, it means we’re heading into longer nights, colder temperatures and an increase in our energy bills as we stay warm and cozy.

Hydro Ottawa, which supplies electricity to more than 330,000 homes and businesses, says heating our homes typically represents about 60% of our home energy use.

On its website, Hydro Ottawa offers a lot of ways you can reduce your consumption of energy and still stay warm.

Many of the tips involve only some simple and inexpensive changes

Here are just a few suggestions Hydro Ottawa offers:

If you have a furnace: Have a licensed HVAC professional check and service your furnace once a year. Hydro Ottawa says this can improve furnace efficiency by up to 20%.

Check your filter once a month, and replace or clean the filter at least every three months or as the manufacturer recommends.
When purchasing a new unit, look for an “Energy Star” qualified model, which is more efficient than a standard one.

Consider a programmable thermostat: Hydro Ottawa says a properly programmed thermostat, set to adjust automatically, can reduce your heating costs by up to 10%.

Hydro Ottawa recommends setting the temperature to 20 degrees C while at home and 17 degrees when you are away or sleeping.

Insulate your Heating Ducts: If you have heating ducts in unheated areas of your home, insulate them to prevent heat loss in these colder rooms.

A Ceiling Fan can Help: A simple ceiling fan, properly installed, can make a difference to energy bills, in winter and summer.

In winter, set the fan to rotate clockwise to force warm air near the ceiling down. In the summer, reverse the fan.

If you have electric baseboard heaters: You can improve the effectiveness of baseboard heaters by using programmable thermostats, which Hydro Ottawa says do a better job keeping a room temperature constant.

Hydro Ottawa suggests turning the thermostats down to 17 degrees C when you’re not home or not using a room. But it says you should never turn the heaters completely off in winter because it could lead to frozen pipes.

The bottom of your curtains should be at least 10 centimetres (four inches) above the top of your heaters. This will help the heat to circulate.

Try to ensure large, heavy furniture isn’t directly in front of a heater.

Vacuum and clean out the dust from your baseboard heaters regularly.

If you have a fireplace: Hydro Ottawa says fireplaces can cause a lot of heat loss to the outdoors. Installing fireplace doors and covers can prevent the flow of warm air up your chimney when you’re not using it.

Having your fireplace inspected and cleaned regularly can reduce heat loss as well as ensure safe operation.

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Your Water Heater: If you have an older electric water heater, Hydro Ottawa says wrapping the heater in an insulation blanket specifically for water heaters can reduce energy loss by up to 40%. Note: Hydro Ottawa cautions NOT to wrap plastic pipes if the pipes from your heater are made of plastic.

Weather Stripping: To help keep warm air inside, install weather stripping around your windows and doors.

Attic Insulation: This is more costly option, but it could help reduce your heating bills in winter and your cooling bills in summer.Hydro Ottawa says insulating the attic or topping up the insulation in your attic can reduce your annual energy costs between 5% and 30%.

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For more energy-saving tips, including a page on “65 Ways to Manage Energy Use” throughout the year, visit Hydro Ottawa’s “Tips and Tools” page.

You can also read about Hydro Ottawa’s “Equal Monthly Billing Plan,” which offers 12 equal monthly payments over the course of a year, based on your energy usage.

Some customers find this an easier way to budget. You can read about it on the website’s “Billing and Payment” section. Qualifying customers can register online.