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Reduce your winter heating bill in 10 easy steps
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You can save money this winter by reducing your winter heating costs if you make a few simple changes.

1. Lower the thermostat two degrees from where you usually set it.

2. Turn the thermostat down to 60 or 65 degrees when you are sleeping. The Department of Energy estimates that you save 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills just by a 10 to 15 percent adjustment during the eight hours when you are sleeping.

3. Minimize the use of bathroom and kitchen fans. In slightly less than one hour a bathroom fan can suck the heated air out of an average sized home.

4. Close the fireplace damper when the fireplace is not in use. Close to 8 percent of the heated air in your home can escape when the damper is open.

5. Put up drapes to add an extra layer of insulation. Close them at night to retain heat and open them on sunny days to let the heat in.

6. Reduce the temperature on your water heater to 120° F.

7. Seal air leaks around windows and doors using caulk or weather-stripping. About one-third of the heat lost in a home occurs through windows and doors. You can perform a couple of simple tests to see if you are losing heat. For doors, place a piece of paper on the door jamb then close the door. Try to pull out the piece of paper. If it comes out easily, then you need to add weather-stripping. To check heat losses from the windows, on a windy day, light a stick of incense and hold it near each window. Watch the direction of the smoke to see if leaks exist and where they are located. Add caulking or weather-stripping as needed.

8. Install storm windows. If that is too costly, invest in a plastic window insulating kit sold in hardware stores.

9. Keep your heating system in good repair and clean. Replace the filters regularly.

10. Contact your utility company to schedule a home
energy audit.

Understanding your utility bills and choosing your rate plan may also help you save energy and lower your utility costs. If you would like more information on how customer choice can save you money, bring your natural gas, electric bills and your lunch to the Rockdale County Cooperative Extension office located at 1400 Parker Rd. Lobby A, Conyers on Tuesday, Nov. 24 from noon to 1 p.m. Call (770) 278-7373 to reserve a space.