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Maintain Home To Reduce Heating Bill Worries
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The cold weather of the winter months can cause anxiety about the costs of keeping warm, but simple efforts to maintain a home can cut down on heating expenses.
Dr. Frances Graham, extension housing specialist at Mississippi State University, said up to 33 percent of heat in homes is lost through uninsulated ceilings.
"Proper insulation is a key factor for minimizing heating bills during the winter. Insulation is important in the attic, next to the interior ceiling in the room, and in walls and floors," Graham said.
"Caulk around all windows and doors to form a tight seal," Graham said. "Cold air can seep into a house through unsealed spaces."
The housing specialist also recommended weather stripping around doors and windows to close gaps.
Set thermostats on the lowest comfortable temperature during the cooler seasons.
"A person saves about 3 percent on their heating costs for every degree lower they set their thermostats from the normal setting. The federal government suggests that 68 degrees is often the lowest comfortable temperature setting," Graham said.
Graham said to decrease the setting on the thermostat by about 10 degrees before leaving town for a few days, and do not turn it up suddenly when arriving home again.
"Turning a thermostat up high suddenly does not help the house heat any more quickly," Graham said.
Also remember to change filters once a month. Clean filters help maintain clean air and provide a more efficient system.
"When a filter is dirty, the heating system has to work harder," Graham said.
People who live in homes with fireplaces should realize that an open damper is a way for heat to escape the house.
"Fireplaces don't have a forced air system, so a good bit of heat from a fire can exit through the chimney instead of coming into the room and house. But even when the fireplace is not used, heat from another system can escape easily through an open damper," Graham said.