We all shudder to think about the dreaded winter heating bills. This year at our house (it's over 100 years old) we put in all new windows (over half of them were original) and added 2 heat and central air units (yes I have central air now). I am looking forward to seeing what impact those improvements make on our heating bills. I'm not saying add new windows or add new central heat and air, these 5 items are much easier.
1) Check your insulation, in the attic if you can see the floor joists you don't have enough - it's that simple. Buy some that can be rolled out or call someone to blow some in (you can even rent these machines and do it your self!) I have used Aurelia Lumber on a couple of houses and they do a great job and are not expensive. To find out what the recommended amount of insulation is for your area and on additional parameters like fuel source etc go to Ornl.gov/~roofs/zip/ziphome.html
2) Insulate all exposed pipes, it is easy and cheap.
3) Stop air leaks - take a candle around your windows, light switches, electrical plug ins, doors, vents, under sinks, from dryer vents, up the chimney and anywhere else air can infiltrate and heat can escape. Home stores sell several products to stop Old Man Winter from stealing your heat. Every where your candle flickers there is air flow - a bad, bad thing for your wallet. Seal up the opening with expandable foam, weather stripping or insulation inserts (under light switches and electrical plates . Place a cap on the dryer vent and close the fireplace damper tightly if not in use (better yet get an insert).
4) Buy a programmable thermostat - and use it! For less than $100 you can buy a good one that will enable you to program each day and several different times within each day.
5) Is your furnace working as efficiently as it can be; have you had it serviced this year? No, get on the ball people, winter is coming! Change that furnace filter religiously, it will keep your home cleaner, your lungs cleaner, you healthier, reduce your heating bills and extend the life you your furnace. How often should you change it; I have allergies so ours will be changed every 30 days.