When plummeting temperatures cause a leap in heating bills, it’s good to know there are ways you can cut energy costs — without sacrificing comfort. To help, natural gas service provider Black Hills Energy offers energy-saving tips and money-saving energy efficiency programs year-round, highlighted on National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, recognized annually on Jan. 10.

“Saving energy can be as simple as turning down the thermostat or insulating around doors and windows to keep drafts out and heat in,” said Jim Dillon, energy efficiency senior manager for Black Hills Energy. “We also offer energy efficiency programs with substantial rebates for installing energy-efficient heating, insulation and appliances.”

The company provides rebates and helps customers save energy as a value-added service. Black Hills Energy’s cost-cutting tips are listed at www.blackhillsenergy.com/saveenergy. Residential and commercial/industrial rebates vary by location and can be found, along with applications, at www.bhesavemoney.com or by calling the utility toll-free at 888-890-5554.

Black Hills Energy rebates include:

· High efficiency furnaces; a rebate of up to $700, depending on efficiency level

· Programmable and Wi-Fi thermostat rebates to help with efficiency and comfort

· Insulation rebates to help with the cost of making your home more efficient

· Energy-efficient water heater rebates for storage and tankless water heaters

· Free online and in-home evaluations and low-cost comprehensive home evaluations to help determine what energy savings can be made for the home

Energy-saving tips from Black Hills Energy include:

· Furnace: An annual furnace inspection will ensure your heating system is working efficiently and provide peace-of-mind from a safety perspective. Routine maintenance is a must. Be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines for changing furnace filters. Inspect them monthly.

· Thermostat: If health concerns aren’t a factor, set your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter. Chilly? Put on a sweater. Check the thermostat on your water heater, too. It should still be hot enough to wash dishes and take a steamy shower without having it at its highest level.

· Energy-efficient heating and appliances: Furnaces and home appliances are far more efficient than they were just a few years ago. To cut energy bills without sacrificing comfort and functionality, consider energy efficiency when replacing them.

· Insulation: You could save as much as 30 percent of your energy costs by better insulating your attic or top floor. You can save about 8 percent of your energy costs by insulating the floor over any unheated areas, such as crawl spaces, basements and garages.

· Windows and doors: Heat escapes through a single pane of glass almost 14 times faster than through a well-insulated wall. Make sure that at the least you have properly-installed storm windows and doors. Double-pane windows are even more efficient and look nice, too. The initial investment is well worth the savings over time.

· Plastic and caulking: A quick, inexpensive way to decrease energy loss is to weather-strip and caulk around windows and doors. Apply plastic sheeting over single-pane windows with a kit found at any hardware store. Air trapped between the window and plastic acts as a natural insulator to help keep warm air in and cold air out.

“We also provide service and account options to help customers manage their energy bills efficiently,” Dillon said. “Customers may review those options at www.blackhillsenergy.com or by calling our customer service associates at 888-890-5554.”