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Put a chill on your bill: Tips to save on heating your home
RE/MAX Genesis
Wednesday, October 31, 2007 • Posted October 30, 2007 10:00 PM

Crude oil costs are higher than ever, and experts have been warning consumers to prepare for higher-than-average heating costs this winter. Well, it’s here, and so is the first bill – and it isn’t pretty.

According to a report from CBS News, Texas has approximately 7.8 million energy consumers, and we use about 174 billion kilowatts in gas energy costs alone. That’s a significant chunk of energy and it’s one segment where consumers will feel the pinch when it comes to winter heating costs.

The fact is that heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. Typically, 44 percent of our utility bill goes for heating and cooling. And, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling systems in the United States emit more than a half billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, adding to global warming.

The good news is that whether your house is heated using gas or electricity, there are a lot of things consumers can do to get a handle on costs. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, weatherization, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution output in half.

Most of these tips revolve around simple maintenance. For example, a home’s heat source is the biggest energy user in a home during the winter. Having a furnace that is in good working order will go a long way toward managing costs. Get your furnace checked out now and change the filters regularly – before the mercury drops.

Here are a few more tips to help you chill on your bill this winter:

Wear sweaters (or lower the temperature of your thermostat)

Experts say that for every degree you lower the temperature in your home, you’ll save two to three percent of your total heating bill. That’s enough to buy the heavy sweater you’ll need for a chilly house. Figure out how that programmable function on your thermostat works and set it a few degrees lower, or change it manually.

Go backwards!

It might sound nutty, but simply reversing the direction your ceiling fan turns will re-circulate the warmer air that rises to the upper areas of your rooms. Put the fan on low and make sure it’s running clockwise, and you’ll be much warmer without cranking up the thermostat and wasting precious energy dollars.

Lower the temperature of your water heater

Any family with small children in the house should lower the temperature of the water heater to prevent burn accidents at bathtime. But by doing so, you’ll also save money on energy costs. Here’s why: your water heater works 24 hours a day to give you instant hot water. If you lower the temperature, your water heater will work less, saving you money.

Wrap those water pipes

Hot water pipes that aren’t insulated will start losing energy (BTUs) as soon as the water leaves the heater. Take a trip to the home improvement store and insulate those pipes with inexpensive “pipe wrap” and you’ll save money heating your water.

Wrap the attic

All attics need insulation, but most need more than they currently have. For example, experts say that all homes need at least 12-14 inches of insulation. Does yours measure up? If not, head back to the home improvement store and stock up. If you’re doing it yourself, there are new products out that are safe and don’t cause itching.

Close the gaps

Small cracks around windows and doors allow cold air to infiltrate the home, resulting in higher energy bills every month for you because it requires more effort to keep your house warm when it’s cold outside. Grab a can of exterior caulk while you’re at the home improvement store and seal any cracks. Also consider purchasing childproof outlet covers – even if your kids are way past the toddler stage. They work well to seal unused outlets.

Wrap the windows!

Well, you won’t really be wrapping the windows, but insulation kits for windows will go a long way toward saving money on energy costs. Even better, if you can splurge on insulated windows, they’re another option to keep the cold out and your heating costs low.

For more information, visit TexasRealEstate.com. For professional services, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000 or lightfoot@moment.net.

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