Deal Finder: Lower Energy Bills this Winter
By LaTina Emerson, The Shopper Deal Finder
Colder temperatures and the holiday season have arrived, creating the perfect storm for higher energy bills. While we can’t avoid using lights and heat in our homes, there are ways to manage our fall and winter energy bills and keep costs low.
There are also resources available to assist those in need with paying their heating bills and weatherizing their homes.
The U.S. Department of Energy offers the following tips to lower your fall and winter energy bills:
Use Natural Light and Heat
Open your curtains during the day to allow sunlight and natural heat into your home. Be sure to close curtains at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
Use clear, heavy-duty plastic to cover drafty windows or tape clear plastic film to the inside of windows during chilly months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help keep out cold air. Also, install insulating drapes or shades on drafty windows.
Adjust the Thermostat
To save money on your heating bill, set your thermostat as low as you find comfortable. When you’re asleep or away from home, turn your thermostat back by 10 to 15 degrees. Doing this for eight hours can save 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills. Use a smart or programmable thermostat to make setting back your thermostat easier.
Seal the air leaks around cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys, recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
Schedule Maintenance for Heating Systems
Schedule maintenance services for your water heater and other heating systems to ensure they’re working properly. Ideally, this should be done before cold weather arrives.
Replace the filters in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems once a month or as needed. Dirty and clogged filters will raise utility bills and damage your HVAC system. For wood and pellet burning heaters, clean the flue vent regularly and periodically clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush to heat your home efficiently.
Turn Down Your Water Heater
Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees Fahrenheit) to save money and avoid scalding water.
Reduce Heat Loss from Fireplaces
Unless a fire is burning in the fireplace, keep your fireplace damper closed. This prevents warm air from going up the chimney. Reduce heat loss from the fireplace by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox or slightly open the nearest window and close doors leading to the room. Lower the thermostat to between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. If you do, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Also, add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
Reduce Holiday Lighting Costs
Use light-emitting diode (LED) holiday light strings to reduce the cost of energy to decorate your home for the holidays.
Seniors and individuals with limited incomes can contact these resources to receive assistance with the costs of heating and weatherizing their homes:
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), an annual, federally-funded program, provides financial assistance to low-income households to help offset the costs of home energy, gas or propane bills.
Seniors who are 65 and older could start to apply on Nov. 1, and all other eligible residents can begin to apply on Dec. 2. For the Coweta County area, appointments must be scheduled online via Community Action for Improvement Inc.’s website: https://cafi.timetap.com.
To qualify, the total gross annual household income needs to be at or below 60 percent of the State Median Income guidelines for Georgia. Applicants must also provide the following documents: proof of household income, Social Security cards for all household members, valid photo ID for all adult household members and a recent copy of their household energy bill.
Eligible households will receive $350 or $400 toward their energy costs. Applicants are served on a first-come, first served basis until funding runs out.
Home Weatherization Program
Community Action for Improvement Inc.’s Home Weatherization Program helps low-income families to reduce their home energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The program offers direct household repairs and energy efficient upgrades. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Contact CAFI Coweta County – Coweta County Neighborhood Services Center at 53 Savannah St. in Newnan, 770-253-3864.