Many homeowners dread the winter because it is when the heating costs start to skyrocket. As a result, people look to any number of tips and tricks to keep expenses down while still trying to stay warm during the colder months.

Instead of worrying about the heating bill, homeowners may want to do some simple checks and make a few cost-effective changes in order to start saving now. It doesn't take a whole lot to shift the costs in one direction or the other, so it is worth a little effort before it is too late. 

A home inspection professional can be a valuable asset during the winter. A report can find any energy leaks - which could be wasting heat - or other problems with crucial heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Simple maintenance to reduce heating costs

In many cases, neglecting problems can be a good way to waste money. This can be especially true during the winter, when heating a house is extremely important. Thankfully, energy-efficient upgrades are easy to implement, and a property inspection could be the first step to saving money at this time.

For starters, homeowners may want to change their furnace filters, according to Massachusetts publication the Marblehead Reporter. Dirty filters mean less air flow, so the system has to work harder in order to do its job. If it's clean, on the other hand, energy use will go down, alongside heating costs. Better yet, a new furnace might be needed as well. An inefficient one has to take longer to heat up and maintain that desired temperature - which means more expenses. 

In addition, homeowners may want to create a temperature command center, the news source noted. New technology can simplify the heating process. Certain systems provide valuable data - like when it is appropriate to change the furnace filter, or what temperature it is both inside and outside. 

Overall, the biggest waste of energy are air leaks, the Marblehead Reporter explained. These can be fixed by using caulk, weather stripping and insulation where necessary. A lot of a house's heat can escape during the winter, so the primary goal should be keeping it all inside where it belongs.

A home inspection can find energy leaks throughout a property. If the heating bills seem to keep going up, this step may be wise to figure out where any problems exist.

Energy-efficient changes to save money

Sometimes, the best energy-efficient changes are the most affordable ones. According to MSN Real Estate, a number of strategies are simple, but they all work well to save money during the winter.

For instance, homeowners may want to just turn down the thermostat. It should never be left on during the night or while the residents are at work. A significant drop in temperature at these times can really add up the savings. In addition, house fans can disperse the heat around a space quickly. This may be a good idea because it can warm up a room faster than the heating system.

Another free change homeowners could make is to turn down the water heater, the news source noted. A quick drop - down to only 115-120 degrees - could save a lot on the energy bill without resulting in a noticeable change. If the water heater is in an unheated space, like a garage or basement, it might need an insulated jacket. These only cost about $20, but can reduce any wasted energy. All water pipes should also be covered with insulation, wherever possible.

Overall, homeowners should consult a property inspection professional to talk about problems with heating and energy expenses during the winter. A check around the house could yield a number of surprising results.