Energy conservation is not just good for the planet, it can save you money this winter.
Although this region is blessed with mild winters absent of blizzards and freezing rain, people do turn up their thermostats as cooler weather drifts into the Bay Area.
But there are a few ways keep energy costs from getting you down.
1. PG&E recently announced the start of its winter gas savings program that gives customers credits for using less. Here's how it works: customers who lower usage during December 2012 and January 2013 by up to 10 percent will receive an equal percentage credit on their February or March gas bill. Those who conserve 10 percent or more will receive a 20 percent credit.
That's a pretty basic concept. Here are some more, including a couple from Patch readers on Facebook.
2. Replace old single-pane windows with double-pane, weather-proof models. This can be pricey (more than $100 a window in some cases) but there is a low-cost do-it-yourself option. The White Plastic Interior Storm Window Kit is less than $7.
3. Patch reader Angela Aurelio suggested "At night a huge down alternative comforter and two cats work." Dressing for the season is a seemingly obvious but important aspect of this as well. Go for slippers and hoodie, not shorts and flip flops, when hanging out at home in the winter.
4. Check for leaks where the heat is slipping out of the house. Try the low-tech but time-tested method of finding leaks: simply hold a burning candle near openings and look for a flicker that reveals incoming air. This is especially a problem around doors, which may need a little weather stripping to stay draft-proof.
5. Patch reader Mark Peake reminded folks that alternative energy sources can be more efficient than traditional choices. "Ceramic heater runs on cents a day," he said.
6. Manage blinds and curtains for maximum heat efficiency. In the winter, this means closing them at night to keep heat in. During the day, open the blinds and curtains of south-facing windows to let the sunlight in.
Check out this Money Talks News column with some bigger-picture ideas for insulating your home, such as planting trees.