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The price of natural gas has risen and will continue to rise, putting the bite on nearly every household in America.   The rising prices are due in part to natural disasters that affected the supply of natural gas, but also due in part that natural gas is a nonrenewable resource, and it is getting more expensive over time for companies to supply it.  

“Consumers are not helpless against the gas company, and it is possible to comfortably reduce their gas consumption and their monthly bills without freezing,” says Wil Golden, a regional Extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. 

One way to cut your bill is to realize that the thermostat doesn’t have to be set at the same temperature all day.  Turning the thermostat down at bedtime and when you are away from home can save money.

 “A programmable thermostat may be the best investment you ever make, Golden says.   You can program the device one time, and it will automatically adjust the thermostat according to the parameters you set.” 

Program the thermostat to turn itself down to 62 after you have gone to bed and are tucked under warm blankets. Then, program it to turn itself back up shortly before you wake up.  Avoid drastic changes in temperature.  Cranking the heat up to 80 degrees when you wake up will overheat the house, and will cause the furnace to run more.  

You can also save by programming the thermostat to go down to 62 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday while you are at work.  It would go back up to 68 about one hour before you get home, so the house would be warm when you return. 

“Weatherizing is another tool for cutting the heat bill,” says Golden.  Simple things like caulking, weather-stripping and window film can go a long way toward preventing heat from escaping.  Make sure there are no cracks around doors or windows. Also check that there is no heat escaping around areas such as dryer vents, electrical wall plates or any other utility openings. Switch boxes are a common source of lost heat, but you can easily seal these up with expandable foam.

Touch the side of your water heater. Does it feel warm?  If so, consider putting an insulating water heater blanket around it.  The blanket will help conserve energy.  Make sure the furnace is clean and in good working order.  Also, change filters regularly.  All these actions will save you money and energy.

Closing off heat registers in rooms that are not being used regularly can also save energy.  And, if your home has a basement, consider adding additional insulation.  Up to 20 percent of your home’s heat can be lost through the basement. 

One more way to reduce heating bills is to set ceiling fans on low speed on reverse.  Remember that heat rises and using the reverse will help move the hot air back into the room.

Wil Golden, Regional Extension Agent, Consumer Sciences and Personal Financial Management, Alabama Cooperative Extension System (334) 566-0985.

Source:  America Saves