With electricity rates expected to increase, any cost savings on home heating costs is welcomed by most homeowners.

Peter Upshall, a conservation engineer with Newfoundland Power, said that there are a number of ways to save money on heating and make a home more energy efficient.

Upshall said that digital programmable thermostats are more accurate than older analog models and keep a house at a more comfortable temperature — saving energy in the process.

"What you want to do is put it to where you're going to use it all day, so if you typically have it on 20 or 21 degrees, then that's as far as you need to go," Upshall said.

He said using the more accurate digital thermostats can save between $20 and $30 a year on heating costs, and a joint initiative between Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Newfoundland Power offers a $10 rebate for those looking to upgrade to digital

Upshall said the digital thermostats can also be programmed to decrease temperatures overnight to get further savings. He said there is about a two percent savings for each degree the temperature is reduced. 

If a typical homeowner decreased the temperature in their home by five degrees overnight, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., they could save up to $120 on annual heating costs, he said.

He said insulating an unfinished basement can also provide a big savings, as much as $400 a year, while making the house warmer and more comfortable.

"I really encourage anybody that's been putting off that project to go down and insulate the basement because that's a big saver," Upshall said.

"Through your basement, you can lose 30, 35 percent of your total heating costs."

He said there is also a rebate for insulation that covers 75 percent of the cost of the insulation, up to $1,000. Typically, homeowners make their money back on the insulation improvements in four to five years.  

Upshall identified electrical outlets in basements as a potential place for cold air to enter a home, and that child safety plugs provide a quick fix.

Better insulation around windows and dryer vents can also keep a home warmer, he said.