If there's one thing we all have in common, it's that heating bills typically eat through a large portion of our monthly budget, and take money away from things we'd rather spend it on.

As such, it's typical to explore ways to go about cutting back on those costs when money gets a little tight. Regardless, taking a few steps to mitigate heating costs only makes sense. Let's take a look at some of these cost-cutting measures and how to go about implementing them this cold season:

Get your ducts sealed

Your ducts carry heat from your furnace to every room in your house. If your ducts have holes or leaks of any sort, not all of the heat produced by your furnace will get to where it needs to go, making your furnace work overtime to pump out more heat. A temporary, economical solution is to tape up any holes (what Canadian hasn't used duct tape before?). But if you really want to save on your heating bills, have a heating and ventilation specialist visit your home and seal your ducts and ventilation shafts properly. Doing so can significantly reduce your heating bills and literally save you hundreds of dollars.

Schedule regular furnace checkups

The most important thing you can do to lower your heating bills and prevent heating inefficiencies is to hire a professional annually to inspect your furnace and ventilation system. While it's true that a furnace checkup costs money, it isn't an outrageous amount, and it can save you money in the long run by ensuring your furnace is operating efficiency. Not only that, but the cost of regular maintenance can far outweigh the cost of actually getting a furnace repaired after trouble occurs.

As a general rule of thumb, older furnaces (a unit that is older than 10 years) may require more extensive maintenance and cleaning. However, units under 10 years old still benefit from maintenance and an annual inspection for reasons of safety and efficiency.

Ensure ducts are free of blockages

While perhaps not as important as duct sealing or furnace maintenance, when your furnace is constantly working overtime and there seems to be no other explanation as to why, you may very well have some sort of blockage somewhere in your ducting. If this is the case, a good duct cleaning can fix things up, thus giving your furnace a smaller workload, and effectively reducing heating bills for months or years to come.

Fix leaky drafts

Household drafts often account for a large portion of waste. Luckily, this is  easy to fix and there are several options available that vary in cost. It all comes down to a matter of preference based on how much you're willing to invest into your home.

For example, the easiest, cheapest way to go about instantly increasing your home's ability to retain heat is to actually apply bubble wrap to the entirety of select windows within your home. The obvious disadvantage here is you'll have to look at bubble wrap as opposed to looking outside.

Another means to go about eliminating drafts is to caulk any areas which let in cold air. Typically, this applies to the borders of windows and doors where current caulking has been cracked, torn, or is otherwise worn.

Taking the time to winter proof your house before the cold weather sets in, and hiring a professional to inspect and maximize your furnace's efficiency can save you money every winter, and ensure your family stays warm.