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Energy Efficiency

Cool Off Your Winter Energy Bill

Try these tips to make savings add up

You’ve budgeted for holiday gifts, meals and maybe a vacation—but with money tight, that doesn’t leave much room for home energy efficiency upgrades. Does that mean you’re powerless to lower your electric bill? Not at all. Keep your energy bill cool this winter with these tips and tricks:

Window coverings: Are you using your windows to capture heat? Open drapes and shades to catch free solar heat during the day. Close them at night to keep the heat inside.

Thermostat: Set your thermostat to 68 degrees (or lower if comfortable).

Got tape? Though not as durable as foam, rubber or vinyl, you can use nonporous tape (cloth first-aid tape, for example) to keep cold air from squeezing into your home. Tape is good for blocking corners and irregular cracks and can be used at the top and bottom of a window sash, in door frames and attic hatches, and to seal inoperable windows. Reinforce it with staples if needed.

Move the air: Run ceiling fans on low and reverse the rotation to pull air up in winter. This keeps warm air circulating without cooling you.

Free vents: Your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system will have to work twice as hard if your air registers and vents are blocked by rugs, furniture or drapes. Keep them clear to allow air to flow freely.

Garage drain: Leave your garage door down. A warmer garage in winter will save energy.

Rug relief: Have a spare rug? Use it to cover bare floors for added insulation.

Cool food: Don’t make your fridge work too hard. Clean its coils every year, and set the temperature between 34 and 37 degrees; leave the freezer between zero and 5 degrees. Keep the freezer full because frozen food helps your freezer stay cool. When cooking, keep lids on pots, and let hot food cool off before placing it in the refrigerator.

Hot savings: Heating water accounts for 12% of the average home’s energy use. Set your water heater temperature no higher than 120 degrees. For households with only one or two members, 115 degrees works.

There are other ways to conserve energy, too. Remember, you don’t pay for what you don’t use. When you’re not watching TV or using lights, computers and other electronics, turn them off. Lower your home’s temperature a bit and wear a sweater to stay warm, or place an extra blanket on the bed at night. Find more ways to save at