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KELTON: Tips for reducing winter home heating bills

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Brrr! It’s cold out there!

And with these cold temperatures comes high winter energy bills.

What can you do to help with these ever-increasing electric and gas bills without breaking the bank?

Here are some simple tips to get you on track to save money this year:

One of the simplest tips is to reduce your thermostat to 68 degrees.

I know it can be tough, especially if you are like me and prefer it warm, but this can have a big effect on your overall bill. Wearing a sweater around the house is not that bad.

Let Mother Nature help warm your house.

Open drapes on the south side of your home during winter days to let the sun in and close them at night. Sun angles are low in winter, allowing substantial solar heating through all south windows.

Operate kitchen and bath vents minimally.

Bath and kitchen vents exhaust moisture, along with heated air, to the outside. If your home is dry during the winter, you may not need to operate these vents at all.

However, if you have condensation on windows, operate the vents as needed to remove cooking and bathing moisture.

Change your air filter regularly. Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer).

If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every three months.

A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool – wasting energy.

A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, which can lead to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.

Speaking of air conditioner maintenance, having your furnace cleaned and tuned annually helps the heating system operate safely and efficiently.

Tuning may involve resetting the fuel-air mixture for proper combustion as well as cleaning of the blower and burners to assure maximum airflow and complete combustion.

It costs a little bit of money, but you know what people say – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

A programmable thermostat is a great way of controlling your unit automatically.

These units can be programmed to reduce the temperature at night or when you are away, then increase the temperature when you wake up or when you come home from work.

Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 every year in energy costs. I have these installed at the store and they are great. Plus, they are not as expensive and you may think – you can pick one up for around $50.

Check and replace weather stripping on doors and windows.

Air leaks around faulty weather stripping on doors and windows not only make your home drafty but also increase heating costs.

Check for drafts around these areas, and repair or replace worn stripping and caulk as necessary.

In regards to water heating, reduce your thermostat to around 120 degrees.

You can check your water temperature by carefully placing the back of your hand under a steady stream of hot water—if you can’t keep your hand there, your water is too hot!

Reducing hot water total use by installing low-flow showerheads and using the cold water setting on the clothes washing machine will save on water heating costs.

Last, but not least, consider switching your old air conditioning unit and water heater with a new Energy Right unit.

Most people, including myself, only consider replacing this when you absolutely have to.

An important step to consider is to work with a qualified heat and air contractor you trust.

They will be able to recommend the best unit for your application and provide the service you need after the sale.

I recently had to replace my 13-year-old air conditioning unit with and new style unit and let me tell you – I can tell a difference.

Not only is my electric bill lower, but the temperature inside is more constant.

I never knew how inefficient my old unit was until it was replaced.

With these simple tips you can start saving today on your monthly bills. MP
Tagged under  Economy, Jason Kelton, Voices

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