How to beat the high cost of heating

January 20, 2001

How to beat the high cost of heating


Conservation is the key to controlling high heating costs this winter, state energy officials and local utilities spokespeople said.

"We urge customers to control what you can control," said Rob Boulware, director of communications for Columbia Gas of Maryland.

Cover windows with shrink plastic, install low-flow water heads, and caulk and weather strip around windows and doors to conserve energy in the home, Boulware said.

Thompson Gas Company of Boonsboro suggests the following energy-saving steps:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Have your home-heating system inspected to make sure it is functioning at its best.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Change your furnace filter monthly. Clean filters will cut heating costs.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Consider investing in a furnace thermostat timer, which will save money by lowering your home's temperature when you're not there.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Turn down your water heater from the standard 140 degrees to 130 degrees to save more than 10 percent on your water-heating bill.


HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Drain your water heater every six months to remove lime deposits and sediment.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Install flow-restricting shower heads to reduce hot water usage by up to 50 percent without affecting water pressure.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Repair leaky faucets.

The Maryland Energy Administration offers these energy-saving suggestions:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting. A thermostat set at 55 degrees at bedtime or when you're away from home for more than four hours will save energy.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Install a programmable, or Energy Star, thermostat to control room temperatures for automatic change of settings at certain times of the day.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Seal or insulate leaky ducts.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Make sure furniture, drapes or carpeting do not cover registers.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If your home has zones or individual room controls, close off heating or cooling to the rooms that don't need it.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> In the winter, open drapes on sunny days to windows facing south for passive solar heating and close the drapes at night to keep in the heat. Keep drapes closed on large expanses of glass without direct sunlight.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Plug gaps around pipes, ducts, fans and vents that go through walls, ceilings and floors from heated to unheated spaces.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Insulate attic and walls to correct specifications.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> When using a fireplace, turn heaters down; when not using the fireplace, remember to close the damper.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Plant evergreen trees and shrubs as wind-breakers on the north and northwest of your home. Planting deciduous trees with high, spreading branches on the south and west of your home will let in the sun during winter months and shade during the summer.

The MEA Web site at and the U.S. Department of Energy Web site at have extensive lists of energy-saving tips.

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