We propose a novel method for reducing the number of variables in quadratic unconstrained binary optimization problems, using a quantum annealer to fix the value of a large portion of the variables to values that have a high probability of being optimal. The resulting problems are usually much easier for the quantum annealer to solve, due to their being smaller and consisting of disconnected components. This approach significantly increases the success rate and number of observations of the best known energy value in samples obtained from the quantum annealer, when compared with calling the quantum annealer without using it, even when using fewer annealing cycles. Use of the method results in a considerable improvement in success metrics even for problems with high-precision couplers and biases, which are more challenging for the quantum annealer to solve. The results are further enhanced by applying the method iteratively and combining it with classical pre-processing. We present results for both Chimera graph-structured problems and embedded problems from a real-world application.