Q. Last winter my energy bill shot through the roof, so this year I want to be ready for the cold weather. What are some easy, cheap things I can do to make sure my bills don’t skyrocket in December?

– Felicity, MA 

A. If you took high school physics — or if you’ve ever been stuck sleeping in an overheated attic during a holiday reunion while everyone else is tucked comfortably into beds on the second floor — then you know that heat rises. This fact of nature is one of the most important things to keep in mind as you winter-proof your home. 

First, insulate your attic hatch or door, so all your precious heat doesn’t sneak upstairs to pool uselessly around your suitcases, extra lamps, and boxes of old clothes. (And then, for the love of all things uncluttered, just donate those clothes to Goodwill already).

Second, adjust the thermometers on each floor of your home so that most of the heating is being pumped into the bottom floor(s). Surely as Tiny Tim's Christmas cheer worked its way into Ebenezer Scrooge’s cold, cold heart, that heat will work its way up to the top floor of your home in no time.  

And third, if you have ceiling fans that you can adjust so that they push air down (that’s the opposite of up), turn the things on, stat. They’ll encourage the cozy heat in each room to move down to where you can enjoy it from your perma-perch on the couch. Lower your thermostats accordingly.

For more tips and info on home insulation and winter-proofing techniques — like sealing up doors and windows — check out this Energy Star guide

Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008. This story was added to MNN.com.

Copyright Environ Press 2008