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Save on heating costs

Boy, have the temperatures started to drop here. Fall jackets are a must during the day, mittens and scarves are coming out for the winter.

As for inside, air conditioners have long been turned off and now the thought of turning heat on has many looking to keep costs down but temperatures up. High energy bills can deeply dig into household budgets.

blogThere are many small things that can be done to save on heating costs. Wearing extra layers, turning the thermostat down during the day or when no one is in the home and keeping vents clean all help.

Here are a couple places to watch:

Heating

  • Install a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night and whenever the house is unoccupied. Lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees at night can reduce your heating bill by 10 to 20 percent.
  • Make sure your programmable thermostat is:
    • Installed properly.
    • Programmed appropriately – a programmable thermostat only saves energy when it is programmed.
    • Not located in an unheated space, a poorly-sealed or seldom-used room, or in direct sunlight near a heat source. The thermostat should be able to sense the average temperature in your home. If it is not in the right place, contact a heating and air conditioning professional about having it moved.
  • Lower your thermostat and wear socks and a sweater in doors. Lowering the thermostat by just one degree Fahrenheit can reduce energy use by 3 percent.
  • If you have a forced air furnace, inspect your filters at the beginning of the heating season and monthly during the season. Clean or replace them if there is significant dust build up.
  • Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air. The air inside your home can be very dry, especially in New Mexico. Moister air feels warmer, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable even though your thermostat is set at a lower temperature.
  • Install foam insulation gaskets behind electric outlets and switch plate covers.

Windows and doors

  • Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. That includes overhead doors on attached garages.
  • Install do-it-yourself plastic-film storm windows. Find them at a local hardware store.
  • Seal off unused rooms (as long as the room is less than 100 square feet and isn’t the room where the thermostat is located). Close the floor or wall registers and return air vents, and keep the doors closed.
  • Open south-facing window curtains, drapes and blinds during the day. Close window coverings at night to keep the heat in.
  • Weatherstrip and caulk windows. Check window frames for cracks and fill them with caulk that contains silicon. Putty-like “rope caulk” can help seal large cracks and save you up to 5 percent on your energy bill.
  • Check all exterior doors for air leaks and weatherstrip and caulk as needed. A one-eighth-inch gap around a door is equivalent to a 6-inch-square hole in the side of your house and causes a lot of energy loss. You can check doors two ways:
    • Have someone stand on the other side of the door and shine a flashlight around the door’s perimeter. If you can see light through the cracks, your door needs sealing.
    • Hold a piece of paper between the door and the frame and shut the door. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you should weatherstrip around the door.

Water heater

  • Make sure the water heater is set no higher than 125 degrees.
  • Drain off a bucket of hot water from your water heater annually to remove sediment that will interfere with the heater’s long-term use.
  • Install a water heater blanket if your water heater is older than 5 years.
  • Insulate the pipes around the water heater with inexpensive, easy-to-install pipe insulation. This is particularly helpful if the water heater is in an unheated space.

Fireplace

  • Never use a traditional fireplace for supplemental heating. A fireplace sucks heated air out of your home to fuel the fire and exhausts it through the chimney, and then your furnace has to turn on to replace that warm air.
  • Close the fireplace damper and seal the opening shut when not in use.

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