You don't necessarily have to turn up the thermostat to stay warm this winter.

5 ways to lower your heating expenses this winter

By: James Abbey, November 13, 2015

Whether you like it or not, the cold weather is here. How low will the temperature go? No one knows.  However, thanks to the warm confines of home, anyone can take the chill out of the air with a quick turn of the thermostat dial.

Staying comfortable isn’t without its price, though, unlike free home values, which are no cost. Over the course of a winter, home heating bills can set you back hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, nearly offsetting money saved through affordable refinance rates.

Fortunately, oil prices have plunged this year, so that will help. However, there are several other ways you can pump up the warmth in your home without deflating your wallet. Here are five suggestions:

Find consolation with insulation

“90 percent of homes are under insulated.”

A properly insulated home prevents air from escaping, keeping conditions cold in the summer and warm in the winter. However, there’s a good chance that your home may be under-insulated. According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, 90 percent of homes in the U.S. don’t use enough. This may explain why utility bills are so high. Talk to a professional to determine if yours may be one of them. The U.S. Department of Energy has resources online that are helpful as well.

Dress in layers
Sometimes, the best way to stay cozy – without having to touch the thermostat – is by layering up. Take advantage of your winter wardrobe by donning a wool sweater or hooded sweatshirt. A piping hot cup of hot cocoa is a tastier way to do the trick.

Replace weather stripping
Every time you open the doors, heat escapes. Even when the windows and doors are shut all day long, air still seeps out. Check the weather stripping that lines your windows and doors. If you haven’t installed any, make this the year you do so.

Install a heat pump
If you’ve never seen or used a heat pump before, it just may be the all-in-one answer to your climate control questions. Instead of converting cold air into warm air, heat pumps work by capturing warm air particles in cold environments and moving them inside. During the summer, it does just the opposite, pushing warm air outside and replacing it with the cold air molecules from the exterior. Think of it as an air taxi service. Because heat pumps don’t generate heat, they use a lot less electricity – between 30 percent and 40 percent less, according to government data. Find out more information about heat pumps here.

Replace cover plates surrounding outlets
Sometimes, the smallest fixes can make the biggest difference. Traditionally, outlets don’t have insulation wrapped around them inside the walls because it can interfere with the electric current. This can increase draftiness. To fix the issue, Popular Mechanics recommends removing the cover plates and filling in the gaps with acrylic latex caulk. A foam gasket over the outlet should then be used before putting the cover plate back on.

For more lesser-known ways to save money on heating this year, check out some other tips offered by the experts at Popular Mechanics magazine, which you can find at its website.