Tips to keep heating costs down this winter

Tips to keep heating costs down this winter

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You've probably noticed that with the beautiful fall colors and falling leaves come cooler temperatures. And odds are good it won't be too long before it's consistently a bit chilly out there — which means time to keep things cozy inside.

Here are some tips to help your home stay warm while keeping heating costs from rising too much as the temperature lowers.

One thing that's easy to do is dress for the weather. Wearing some extra layers at home means the thermostat can stay down a notch or two. Plus side? It can feel pretty snuggly to bundle up in those sweatshirts, sweaters and heavy socks.

Here are four practical around-the-house tips from Consumer Reports for locating and correcting issues to help keep heating costs down:

Seal air leaks

While windows and doors may be the most noticeable source of drafts, the biggest air leaks are often in attics and basements.

In attics, gaps are likely to occur where the walls meet the attic floor, the access hatch, and around plumbing and electrical fixtures. Small gaps can be sealed with caulking or spray foam.

Check where the foundation meets the framing of the house in the basement. And check the spots where plumbing and wiring enters the home.

For windows and doors, use a combination of weather stripping, caulk or expandable foam.

Pay attention to thermostat settings

Here's where those wintry layers you're wearing pay off — the warmer you dress, the lower you can set the thermostat. The Department of Energy recommends a setting of 68 F or lower for when residents are home and awake and lowering the temperature further when asleep or away.

If your home's heating system is compatible, a programmable thermostat or smart thermostat can help by automatically adjusting temperature according to a household's schedule.

Filters

For homes with forced-air heat systems, the filter should be replaced every few months.

Look for a budget plan

Dominion Energy offers budget billing. This program enables customers with no back payments due to avoid seasonal highs and lows by paying a monthly amount averaged over 12 months.

Dominion Energy also offers a home energy audit for a $50 fee. An inspector evaluates your home to pinpoint how it is using, and possibly wasting, energy. The fee includes the installation of some energy-saving products and information regarding potential rebates for upgrades. For an additional fee, the inspector also will install a NEST smart thermostat.

For more information and to sign up, go to www.dominionenergy.com/ohio/save-energy/energystar-program.

Geico.com offers some additional tips for saving on energy bills. These include lowering the temperature on the water heater and cutting down on the length of showers.

Additionally, if there are unused rooms in a large home such as a guest room, they suggest shutting the heating vent and closing off the room.

And Geico reminds homeowners about using ceiling fans in the cooler months. Turning on a fan running clockwise helps circulate warm air that rises back into the room.

Making good use of when to open and close the drapes can allow any winter sunshine to help warm up the house. Open during the sunshine hours to use the heat and then close as soon as the sun disappears to retain the heat.

Purchasing and using an energy-efficient electric blanket can help with heating costs if it enables you to turn down the thermostat even lower at night.

A few simple steps can make a difference in energy bills.

For anyone struggling to pay heating bills, call United Way's Wayne Holmes Information Referral Exchange helpline for a referral for assistance at 330-263-6363.