With winter weather--and higher heating bills--coming up over the next few months, Wyoming Public Service Commission Consumer Advocate Bryce Freeman says there are a number of simple steps you can take to keep your fuel bill down, adding most of them are free or relatively inexpensive. Freeman says one of the easiest--and often ignored--steps is to regularly change your furnace filters. Dirty furnace filters not only make your furnace less effective, they also can seriously reduce the fuel efficiency of your heating system. Freeman says it's also worthwhile to caulk and weatherstrip area of your home which may be allowing heat to escape, especially doors and windows. Freeman says people who leave their home for long periods of the day while working may want to invest in a programmable thermostat to keep from burning fuel to heat the home while no one is home.

One thing Freeman says is usually not helpful is an open hearth fireplace, which he says is in most cases not a very effective tool for winter heating. He adds a closed stove is a much better choice in terms of heating efficiency than a fireplace.