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December 16, 2016

Avoid Sticker Shock on Your Heating Bill

‘Tis the season for cozying up with a cup of hot cocoa under a big, warm afghan. With the colder weather, though, comes higher heating bills. But, with a few savvy energy-saving tips, you can help avoid sticker shock when you open your next utility bill.

Keep the heat inside. As kids, we all got that warning when we stood in the open doorway during the middle of winter—“Close that door! I’m not paying to heat the outdoors!” As adults who understand having bills to pay, we get it now! Why pay to fuel your heating system, then let all that warm air escape? Make sure you consider all the ways heat may be making its getaway from your home. If you’re not using your fireplace, make sure the flue is closed. Don’t run the ventilation fans in your bathroom or kitchen when they aren’t needed—they’ll suck are that warm, toasty air right out of the room. And be sure you have proper insulation in your attic.

Keep the cold outside. Not only do you have to worry about warm air escaping, you need to be aware of cold air invading! Check your house for drafts by holding a lit candle near windows and doors and observing the flame—if it moves horizontally, outside air may be sneaking in. Seal up leaks with low-cost caulking or weather-stripping.

A few degrees can equal big savings. Turning your thermostat down just a few degrees can shave 5 to 10 percent off your heating bill. Counter the drop by dressing in warm layers. Make sure you keep some nice, warm throws on the sofa and chairs—activity keeps your body warmer, so when you stop moving and sit down, you may feel colder! Tip—feet play a big role in the body’s perception of heat, so warm socks go a long way!

Take advantage of the sun. Open drapes or blinds when the sun is on your windows to take advantage of the natural heat. But make sure to close all coverings when it’s dark to avoid losing heat.

Maintain your heating systems. Electric and oil heaters should have maintenance every year. Gas heaters need serviced every other year. Regular maintenance can keep your systems running more efficiently. And one maintenance item you can easily do on your own—change the filter! Dirty filters equal higher utility bills.

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