Letters for 11-20-2014

Make ready for winter
The weather’s getting colder and with colder weather comes higher energy bills to ensure homes stay warm.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5-30 percent of your energy use.
There are many ways to “winterize” your home to help prevent having outrageous utility bills.
The first, and most obvious step is to make a “draft snake,” which anyone can do. A tightly rolled towel placed at the foot of a door leading outside can help keep the warm air from slipping out.
Another suggestion is changing furnace filters, something that can easily be forgotten about, but once its done can make a big difference.
By replacing or cleaning furnace filters once a month during the winter season, airflow can be opened up and the increase in energy demands is lessened. One way to ensure you remember to change the filters is to mark a monthly check on your calendar.
A little known fact is that there are actually federal tax credits available when purchasing a new furnace, which can cover up to 30 percent of the cost.
Ensuring no excess water is stored in AC units and water lines is another way to save on winter woes. Drain any hoses or air conditioning pipes, and if your AC has a water valve, shut that off, too. This will prevent the pipes from freezing and possibly bursting.
Turning down the water heater is another simple trick that can save households money. How to turn down a water heater’s temperature often depends on what kind of heater you have. The most popular electric ones usually have a thermostat below a metal cover on the side. A more expensive water heater has the ability to program the heat to increase or decrease heat at designated times.
According to Popular Mechanics magazine, lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, as opposed to the typically preset 140 degrees could reduce water-heating costs by 6-10 percent.
Other ways to winterize a home include installing storm doors, having a professional technician “fine tune” the homes heating system before the cold sets in, turning down the heat when no one is home, putting up window plastic (kits can be purchased at your local hardware store), insulating pipes with pipe foam or other material and sealing off air ducts so no heat escapes.
But what is the absolute the simplest and most economic way to winterize and save money? Put on a sweater, of course.