Tips to keep heating cost down this winter

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- We've all felt the drastic dip in temperature this week as the cold and wind move in.

Last year's winter weather was warmer than normal so customers needed less energy to stay warm and their energy bills were lower, but this year could be different.

Alliant Energy says gas prices this year are pretty close to last year.

So your heating bill may go up if it gets cold and you need to use more energy to stay warm.

A furnace tune-up is a great first step to make sure everything is working properly.

Then there are easy solutions for changing your furnace filter to improve airflow and ease the workload on your furnace.

The temperature inside your home or apartment is also a big factor.
Setting the temperature to a level where you're warm and comfortable can save money.

You can even purchase something called a smart thermostat or a programmable thermostat.

"These new thermostats are thermostats that you can program using your phone, some of them will even allow you to use your phone as sort of a tracking device so it will turn the temperature down when you're away from the home and then the closer you get to your home, it kicks the furnace in and to starts to warm up your house,"Mike Wagner, spokesperson for Alliant Energy said.

The smart thermostats can cost between $100 - $300 dollars.

Some of the devices will even give you a report of your usage, so you can adjust how much to use next month or other behaviors to help you save money.

And If you do plan on going on vacation, especially with the holidays.

You can set your thermostat to 55 degrees to help keep your pipes from freezing and save on energy cost.