[r82] COLUMN: Reducing your winter energy bills (11/26/2014)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Start Date: 11/26/2014 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 11/26/2014
Reducing your winter energy bills

I remember thinking this past winter would never end. I constantly worried about my pipes freezing so I made sure to run a drip from my faucet. This year the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a similar winter and I hope that being prepared for the freezing weather will make it seem less stressful for everyone. This is why I wanted to provide our community with information that will help everyone save money, stay warm and be prepared for the cold.

There are several ways to save energy just by remembering to adjust your thermostat. You can keep it at a low, yet comfortable temperature by wearing multiple layers. Also think about lowering the temperature as you leave your house, go to bed or are having people over. These ideas are simple enough to help, yet take minimal effort.

Having a well maintained furnace can help keep your costs low, as they run most efficiently. To ensure your furnace is operating to the best of its ability be sure to change the furnace filter regularly, utilize the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines, have your furnace regularly inspected and clean your vents regularly. These tips can help you save money and keep your family safe.

Often we are told to keep curtains and shades drawn so heat stays within the home. On days when the sun is shining, leave curtains and shades open so that the sun can help warm your home and then close them again at night. You can also use affordable and effective plastic sheeting as an additional barrier to insulate the windows.

The fans in our home can also play a part in heating our homes if we set our ceiling fans to rotate clockwise, drawing air up and allowing warm air to circulate. In the summer we keep our fans circulating counter-clockwise as a way to push air down and keep rooms cool. Try to keep your exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen off – these fans will remove warm air out of your home.

One of the most essential steps to heating a home is proper insulation. Be sure that your entire home is not only insulated, but that homes are using the appropriate insulation for the area that you live in. For example, Indiana homes need to be insulated with ratings between R-38 and R-49 for ceilings and between R-18 and R-22 for walls. 

Check the weather stripping, caulking and seals around each of your doors and windows. Any holes or cracks in these areas will let out a significant amount of heat and can be easily fixed. You can stop drafty electrical outlets along exterior walls by using foam or plastic gaskets to insulate them. 

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor website provides a consumer publication with all of the above information and more at http://www.in.gov/oucc/2397.htm#1. This site will also have information on lighting, appliances and landscaping. I hope this information was helpful in preparing you for the winter weather that has erupted over the last month and allows you and your family to stay warm, safe and healthy throughout the holidays. 


Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.