It’s that time of year again… Old Man Winter is nipping at your nose, chilling down your toes and – perhaps most distressing of all – driving up your utility expenses with the increased use of your indoor heating system. But wait: instead of automatically reaching for the thermostat dial, consider alternatives to heating the entire house at night. After all, the only room in use is the bedroom, so stay snug, lower your utility costs, and reduce your energy consumption with these easy ideas. Check for Drafts If your bedroom windows (or any other windows in your home, for that matter) have gaps or leaks, your warm inside air is leaking away to the outside, leaving you chilly and wasting your hard-earned money. Each season, check all windows and doors that open to the outside. You can use a draft detector, or simply a burning stick of incense to check for unwanted air movement. Fix those gaps and your room will stay warmer. It's not difficult to caulk or plug leaks around windows and doors, and the benefits are twofold: you'll cut down on energy waste and you'll prevent bugs from sneaking inside. Use Warmer Bedding It’s the obvious solution; when nature turns the thermostat down, it’s time to turn up the heat on your bed. Just as with clothing, layers of bedding keep you warmer, so swap out those percale or sateen sheets for flannel, and top them with a warm blanket and a down-filled (or down-substitute) comforter. You can also go extra-warm with an electric blanket, but keep your plugged-in bedding on top, not layered underneath a comforter or duvet (and remember that electric blankets are only for the master bedroom, not for a child’s room and definitely not for the nursery). If you really get cold, consider an electric mattress pad, which warms up your whole bed from underneath the sheets. Reverse the Ceiling Fan Ceiling fans are a great way to reduce energy usage any time of year. In the summer, the counterclockwise rotation creates a cooling breeze that’s a treat on muggy, hot nights. But once the winter months roll around, it’s time to reverse your fan’s rotation to clockwise (most ceiling fans have a switch on the fan’s base that sets the rotational direction). Now the fan’s blades will pull warmer air from the ceiling, and push it lower into the room – right where you need it. Take advantage of your season fan adjustment to wipe down the blades, as well; they are a prime spot for dust buildup. Just slip a pillowcase over each blade, and then slide the fabric to the end of the blade. The collected dust remains inside the pillowcase instead of drifting down over your bedroom.