SPRINGFIELD, Ill, Jan. 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bitterly cold temperatures across much of the country can bring an equally cold reality: higher heat bills. Increased heating costs are inevitable; however, energy dollars can pour out of your living space through drafty doors and windows as well as unused portions of the home. There are several steps consumers can take to lower costs while staying comfortable during a frigid winter.

“Heating and cooling account for more than half of home energy costs,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council (EEC). “Simple steps like lowering the thermostat when you go to bed or while gone can shave a substantial percentage off your heating bill.”

EEC suggests these tips to avoid wasting heat and to save on your bill:

  • During periods of heavy heating, change your filter every month or two. If a filter is dirty, the furnace has to work harder to move air.
  • Check for air leaks and drafts around doors, windows and exterior walls. Use caulk, sealant, and weather stripping. Clear film window kits can help with drafty, older windows.
  • Check the ductwork that's in your basement or attic. Air leaks in ducts can account for about 20 to 30 percent of wasted heat. If there are leaks or holes in your ducts, use sealant or metal tape. 
  • Save up to 3% for each 1° the temperature is lowered on your thermostat. For example, reducing the setting from 74 to 71 can save up to 9%.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to set your temperature lower when you're away to prevent energy waste from heating an empty house.  This can help you save up to 15% each year.
  • Leave space around heating registers so warm air can easily enter the area.
  • It can be more cost-efficient to use a space heater to increase the temperature of a room rather than cranking up the heat to warm the entire house.  By using a space heater, you can turn your thermostat down and place less demand on your furnace.   
  • Let Mother Nature help heat and harness the power of the sun by keeping the curtains open to let direct sunlight warm the home during daylight hours.  Remember to close your curtains in the evening to reduce drafts.   
  • If you have a fireplace, close the damper when not in use.
  • Turn your water heater down to the "warm" setting, or to about 120 degrees, to cut back on the energy waste and reduce the likelihood of scalds. Water heating consumes a higher percentage of heating costs than you might think, nearly a fifth.  

Additional measures include a home energy audit to check the amount of insulation in the attic, crawlspace, and floors and walls adjacent to unheated spaces such as basements and garages. If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to have your heating system checked. Consider replacing older heating equipment with a newer, more efficient system. 

Find more efficiency information at www.efficiencyresource.org or www.SafeElectricity.org.

# # #

The Energy Education Council (EEC) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that works to create a safer, smarter world. Established in 1952, EEC serves as a forum for diverse utility and energy organizations to collaborate and educate on the mutually vital issues of efficiency and safety.  EEC’s largest public outreach program is Safe Electricity. Learn more at www.SafeElectricity.org and www.EfficiencyResource.org.

Attachments:

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/a6374738-418f-4b68-80b3-3bd70de50c6f

Krista Lisser
Energy Education Council
(217) 546-6815
klisser@illinois.edu