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Reduce those winter heating bills

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It won't be long until the fall/winter weather sets in and cold temperatures become the norm rather than the rarity.

With that in mind, there are several things residents can do to reduce their heating bills this winter.

In addition to making sure your existing heating system is in peak operating condition (or replacing it with a more energy-efficient unit), talk with family members about how a little effort can yield significant results in cutting heating bills without adversely affecting anyone's comfort.

Here are some suggestions:

*Set the direction of ceiling fans for proper circulation. Run ceiling fans in a clockwise direction during cold weather months to move the warm air that gathers near ceilings back into the rooms.

*Warm up your bed. Turn down your thermostat and use extra blankets or quilts - or even an electric blanket or mattress pad - to stay toasty at night.

*Vacuum baseboard heaters and air registers. When you see dust, dirt and lint building up, clean any of these devices that are part of your home's heating system.

*Move furniture or window coverings that are blocking baseboard heaters or air registers. A blocked air register can cause an adjoining room to overheat, and upholstery or curtains can trap heat between the wall and the fabric, preventing it from being distributed throughout a room.

*Isolate unused rooms. Turn down the thermostat in a room with baseboard heat, or close the registers for a forced air furnace. However, don't allow temperatures in rooms with water pipes to approach the freezing point.

*Remove wall or window air conditioners during cold-weather months. For a wall unit, cover the opening with plywood backed by rigid foram insulation and caulk to ensure the unit is weather-tight. Remove window units, close the window and fix any air leaks.

*Remove humidity from the kitchen and bathroom with a properly sized exhaust fan. Don't leave the exhaust fan on longer, or at a higher speed, than necessary. In one hour an exhaust fan can blow a "houseful" of heated air outside. Make sure the fans are not discharging air and moisture into the attic. They should be vented outdoors.

These simple tips will save you significant money on your winter heating bills.