TAYLOR COUNTY—Although Grafton and the surrounding communities saw their first significant snowfall of the season Thursday into Friday, winter will be lingering for months to come.
And aside from travel issues, the season brings with in increased heating bills, but there are steps residents can take to get their homes ready for the coldest months of the year, helping to keep more money in their wallets.
When thinking of winterizing a home, it may seem like a daunting and expensive task, but People’s Natural Gas Company has compiled a list of low or no-cost measures that will help cut heating costs.
First and foremost, residents are encouraged to check their furnaces to ensure that everything is in proper working order. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reduce heating bills is to make sure that furnace filters are in top working order.
During the heating season, it is recommended to check furnace air filters once a month. If they become clogged, clean or replace the existing filters with new ones and in doing so, you can save two-to-five percent in fuel costs.
According to People’s, filters should be checked and changed regularly to not only increase energy efficiency but to help keep your furnace in proper working order, as dirty and clogged filters are the number one reason for furnace breakdowns.
Often, cool air can make its way inside, sneaking around the crevices of doors and windows. Carrying out a simple test can help determine if this is an issue in your home.
Slide a playing card along the edge of a door or window on the exterior walls of the home. If the card slides in between the door or window and the wall, then more caulk or weather stripping may be needed.
Both caulk and weather stripping are used to stop air leaks around windows, doors, exhaust fans and any other place where wires or pipes pass through walls. While administering the test, be sure to check the condition of your caulk or weather stripping to ensure maximum stoppage of air leaks.
Another way to help keep warm air inside the home is through the installation of storm and/or replacement windows, but for some that can be costly project. A low-cost alternative is six-mil plastic, which you can use to “make” storm windows.
When done right, homemade storm windows on the inside of your regular windows can last through several seasons.
Insulation is another item that can keep warm air in and cold air out this winter. People’s suggests insulating the first three to six feet of cold and hot water pipes near the water heater, to help keep costs down and prevent pipe breakage.
In addition, wrapping the water heater with an insulation blanket can save on energy bills by slowing the drop in temperature from the hot water tank as it sits unused. Inexpensive insulation kits are available at most home improvement stores.
People’s also revealed that lowering the heat of the water from the automatically set 140 degrees to 120-125 degrees will also help save some money on your heating bill, by reducing the amount of fuel needed to heat the water.
Another way residents can keep cash in their accounts this winter is to utilize mother nature herself.
On sunny days, open shades, draperies and blinds to let the sun help to heat the home. Alternately, on colder cloudy days, close blinds and draperies, block radiators or seal off heating ducts to keep the warmth in.
One of the simplest ways to save money during the winter is to set the thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and to 58 degrees at night or when away from home for several hours.
Another tip is to close the vents/registers and doors in unused rooms and make sure that registers and cold air returns are not blocked.
And lastly, most more than likely can recall hearing their parents tell them to quit running inside and out. By following their advice of not opening outside doors needlessly, colder air will be kept at bay, ensuring a toastier atmosphere indoors.
By following these simple, yet effective, tips, you can help keep your family warm this winter and more money in the bank.
For more information or to see additional tips, please visit www.peoples-gas.com.