First at Five, October 21, 2008
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C.---In today's economy, keeping homes warm in the winter months may be tougher. News 12 is on your side with ways to save when the weather is cooler.
Vicky Burnett of Johnston is gearing up for the cold by getting her chimney swept out, but her fireplace won't heat the whole house, so she expects her electric bill to go up like every winter.
"Last year it went up a lot," said Burnett. "[I paid] $200 to $225, which is a lot for me."
And this year, she can't afford to be in hot water, because of the economy. She's looking for any way to stay warm, while keeping her electric bill cool.
Lowe's Sales Specialist John Neumar says no one has to break the bank to keep warm.
One way is in spot-heating with a radiator.
"You warm up that one room you're in because there's no sense in turning the heat up and warming the whole house," said Neumar.
If you do that, you can keep your central air down, but some of us forget to adjust it, which is why a programmable thermostat can save money.
"It will adjust at certain peak times when you need to be cooler or hotter," said Neumar. "When you're sleeping you want it cooler."
Something else you might want to cool down is your water heater. Neumar says many of us keep the temperature way above where it should be, about 120 degrees.
Weatherstripping will also help by keeping warm air from slipping through the cracks in your house.
"Everything else we talked about is going out the window or the door, literally, if you don't stop your cracks," said Neumar.
Some of those tips will cost you money, but Neumar says the savings will add up over time, especially if you take the advice of more than one.
Here's some more advice:
-Reduce your thermostat. Many people recommend keeping it no higher than 68 degrees. Every few degrees you lower it can save 5 to 10 percent.
-Change your air filter monthly. It's simple and doesn't cost much, but many people don't do it every month. If the filter is dirty your heating unit will use more energy, thus costing you more money.
-Add more insulation to your home. This is a more costly project, but can save a lot of money over a long period of time.
-Install a water heater blanket. Older water heaters may not have enough insulation, so the blanket can keep the unit warm and save energy costs.
-Let sunshine in south-facing windows. Open drapes on the south part of your home during the day and close them at night. This will let natural heat in and keep it in at night.
-Have your heating unit checked on. Proper maintenance will keep the unit running more efficiently. Electric and oil heaters should be looked at by a professional at least once a year and gas heaters every other year.