Ways to cool off those heating bills

Home: Pull on a sweater and try these money-saving tactics.

January 21, 2001|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

There must be some variation of Murphy's Law that goes: Skyrocketing oil and gas prices will cause the average temperature of a winter's day to drop 10 degrees.

It's cold outside and heating bills are soaring, so a few money-saving measures are definitely in order. What should we do? As Tim Jahnigen of Baltimore Gas & Electric puts it, "Lifestyle choices will determine how much you pay at the end of the month."

Start with the easy ones.

No-brainers:

Put on a sweater and turn the thermostat down. For every degree you lower your thermostat below 73 degrees, you'll save about 4 percent on your heating bill.

Turn down the thermostat to 62 degrees at night or if you're at work all day.

If you have an unused room, turn off the radiator or close the register.

Close the damper on your fireplace when there's no fire.

Vacuum vents, radiators and registers. Make sure they aren't blocked by furniture.

Open blinds and draperies on a sunny day; close them at night.

Save on electricity to help balance heating costs: Turn off lights and appliances when you aren't using them. Vacuum refrigerator / freezer coils to increase efficiency.

Set your hot water heater at 125 degrees or less.

Wash your laundry in warm or cold water rather than hot.

For even more savings:

Install a programmable thermostat, and you won't have to remember to lower the temperature at night.

Have your heating system serviced to make sure it's operating efficiently.

Clean or replace furnace filters monthly. A dirty filter can add 10 percent to your heating costs.

Winterize cracks and drafty windows and doors. Caulk or weatherstrip where needed.

Storm windows and doors are a must-have for every energy-smart home- owner.

Good-looking insulating draperies and shades are now available.

If your hot water heater feels warm to the touch, buy an insulation jacket to keep it cozy--and reduce your utility bills.

Make your fireplace more energy efficient by installing heat-circulating inserts or glass doors.

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