Fall is is a wonderful season, full of rich colors, earthy smells and full flavors.

I don't quite feel the same way about my energy bill. Because it tends to get a bit chilly in the late fall months, and I don’t want to sport a Snuggie, I’m tempted to turn up the thermostat.

Rather than banning use of the heater and forcing my family to huddle around the television for warmth, I decided to find some frugal solutions to keep my house warm this fall.

1. Pick activities that warm twice. For example, I love cooking in the fall months. Besides the enjoyment of whipping up a new apple cobbler or pie recipe, I find that turning the oven on warms my house for hours. I also like to take showers or baths with the door open so that the steam roams throughout my entire house–I just have to make sure that I have no house guests.

2. Remove obstructions and clutter from heating vents. That act alone will save anywhere from 20 to 50 percent off the bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. I always move furniture, toys, and curtains away from the vents so that heat travels freely. My daughter's Barbie does have some skimpy outfits, but I doubt she needs the heat.

3. Turn down the thermostat just a couple of degrees. Each degree trims about 3 percent from the bill, experts say. I do this especially at nighttime when my family is less likely to notice the difference. If my husband does complain, I just toss another blanket on him or, ahem, find other ways to warm him up. Consider investing in a computerized thermostat which can be programmed to automatically turn the heat down while you are at work or sleeping.

4. Turn on the fan. Say what? A fan isn't just for keeping cool–it actually circulates warm air throughout the entire house and can reduce costs by as much as 10 percent, experts say.  Just make sure to adjust the fan so it rotates clockwise, blowing warm air down from the ceiling.

5. Bundle up! If my feet are cold, my entire body feels like I’m in the Arctic. Rather than turn up the heater, I make socks and slippers a priority. And you don't have to settle with boring socks and slippers. Around our house we love crazy patterns and styles. It's even become a competition to see who can come up with the weirdest footwear.

6. Open up the blinds when the sun is out. Those bright rays naturally heat my house–although the kitty cat might attempt to hog all of the sunlight. I always close the curtains as soon as it becomes dark to keep cold air out and reduce any heat loss, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes boosts heating and energy efficiency by approximately 20 percent.

7. Cover up unused doors and windows. Windows and doors are centers for drafts, which often leads to higher heating bills in the fall. Covering any windows and doors that are not commonly used in the winter with plastic. You can find kits for about $5 at Walmart, but I like to get creative and hang up pretty autumn-themed blankets and sheets.

This has been a guest post by Rose from Yakima, WA
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Harvest Savings: Reduce Heating Costs this Fall