SAN FRANCISCO (1/27/10)--Recent reports that wholesale energy costs dropped 0.4% from November to December may sound like good news for consumers (marketwatch.com
Jan. 20). December 2009 home heating oil prices, however, averaged more than 28 cents more than prices in December 2008. Current prices, coupled with increased demand due to frigid temperatures, have resulted in heating bills higher than many families can handle (usatoday.com
Jan. 10). Here are five easy ways to reduce heating costs:
* Set it and forget it. Set your thermostat in the 60-degree to 65-degree range while you’re away or asleep, and in the 66- to 70-degree range while you’re at home and awake. Turning the heat lower than 60 degrees when you leave and cranking it back up when you return actually makes your system work harder, reduces its efficiency, and costs you more. * Reduce drafts. A small investment in caulk, weather stripping, door sweeps, or insulated outlet covers for drafty areas will block heat from escaping. That can make you more comfortable and save money. * Take shorter showers. The more hot water you use during a shower means more energy use and money down the drain. * Reduce water heater temperature. The higher the temperature, the more energy your water heater uses. Adjust the setting to 120 degrees, which still keeps your dishwasher cleaning effectively, allows for comfortable showers, and saves money. It also helps reduce the danger of hot water scalds. * Cover up. Use a water heater insulation blanket to prevent heat from escaping and help the unit, especially an older electric model, run more efficiently. These are available at your local hardware store.
For more information about energy efficiency, read “Can You Really Offset Energy Use?” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center