With temperatures dipping into the teens this week, many Tift County residents have spent some quality time near the thermostat – turning the heat up.
But you may be wondering what these colder temperatures mean for you wallet. Clearly, your electric bill will be higher, but there are some things you can do this winter to lower your energy costs.
First, you can install a programmable thermostat, setting it for a lower temperature at night and when you are away from home. Just dropping it by 10 degrees can reduce your bill by 10 to 20 percent. Just be sure your thermostat isn't in an unheated space or seldom-used room, or in direct sunlight.
When you are home, you can still lower your thermostat and wear a sweater. Even dropping down 1 degree can reduce energy use by 3 percent.
Make sure your filters are clean, or replace them. You should inspect your filters monthly while your heating system is being used regularly during the winter months.
Keep your garage doors and windows closed as much as possible, including overhead doors on attached garages. You should also close off unused rooms in your home, including the air vents, and keep the doors closed.
Open your blinds or drapes during the day to take advantage of the sunlight to help naturally heat your home. Close them at night to keep the heat in.
Be sure your windows are properly weatherstripped and caulked, and check for cracks. Sealing the cracks can help you save up to 5 percent of your energy costs.
Do the same for the outside doors of your home. Check for air leaks, and weatherstrip and caulk where needed. A gap of only 1/8 of an inch can cause substantial energy loss.
You should also check your water heater, and make sure it is set no higher than 125 degrees. If your water heater is 5 years old or more, install a water heater blanket. You should also insulate the pipes around the water heater, particularly if the water heater is located in an unheated space.
Don't use your fireplace as supplemental heating. Fireplaces suck heated air out of the home to fuel the fire, and exhausts it through the chimney – then your heating system has to work to replace that warm air, increasing your energy costs.
Close the fireplace damper and seal the opening shut when not in use.
If you haven't already, measure your attic insulation, and make sure that you have more than 7 inches of insulation installed. Look for places where air may be leaking through, and seal those holes by stapling a piece of plastic sheeting over them and caulking around the edges of the plastic as a temporary fix.
If you are concerned with how much your electric bill will be after the "arctic" blast this week and you are a Georgia Power customer, you can use the Georgia Power Bill Calculator, available for this month, to estimate how much your bill will be. Just go online at http://www.psc.state.ga.us/calc/electric/GPcalc.asp, and enter the information needed.
The calculator is provided by the Georgia Public Service Commission. You can also use it to check the accuracy of your bill each month.
To contact editor Angye Morrison, call 382-4321.