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savE EnErgy anD monEy tHis WintEr

T he average household spends around $2,200 annually on energy bills alone. Going green or just getting your home ready for winter will save energy, cut your expenses and help protect the environment by reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. In addition, there are tax credits available to homeowners who make energy improvements to their homes. Early in 2010, the government will be offering rebates on Energy Star appliances for homeowners to help them cut back on their energy usage and cut back your home energy bills. Some utility companies give financial incentives for homeowners who have bought Energy Star-qualified house installations like windows, doors and skylights: appliances, light bulbs and fixtures. These tax credits could be anywhere from $1,500 and up, depending on the Energy Star approved products you have at home and your location.

rebate and consumer programs or contact your local utility company.

High-efficiency windows. If you are planning to replace your windows, choosing Energy Star windows can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15 percent.

n Install gaskets under the cover plates of light switches and electrical outlets on exterior walls to reduce air leakage.

n Open shades and curtains during the day to let in the sun’s warmth.

n Close drapes at night to prevent heat loss.

What can you do?

Install a programmable thermostat. If you have a heat pump, select a model designed for heat pumps. Set-back thermostats can save up to 15 percent on energy costs.

Increase ceiling insulation. If your ceiling is uninsulated or scantily insulated, consider increasing your insulation’s “R” value up to R-38 which can reduce heating costs by 5 to 25 percent.

What more can you do?

Here are additional energy saving tips that will help further reduce your energy use.

n Clean or replace furnace air filters once a month in winter. Don’t forget to clean vent covers as well.

n Have your heating equipment serviced annually, before use, by a licensed and bonded service professional.

n Cover cold floors with rugs or carpet.

n Close the damper on your fireplace when it’s not in use. Reopen damper when lighting a fire. If your fireplace doesn’t have a damper, you can seal your fireplace with glass or Plexiglas doors.

n Close doors to unoccupied rooms.

n When entering or exiting your home, close doors as quickly as possible to limit heat loss.

Seal ducts. Leaking ductwork accounts for a large percentage of heating costs in an average Wisconsin home. Consider hiring a contractor to test the tightness of your ducts and repair leaks and restrictions in your duct. Many utilities have programs to assist you. Check out the Flex Your Power website for

n Adjust the flame on your natural gas and heating oil burners so that they burn blue.

n Caulk around exterior windows and door frames.

n Seal cracks around doors to prevent air infiltration.

n Lower your thermostat to 68 to 70 degrees; check the setting with a thermometer. Some experts suggest going as low as 65 degrees.

n Wear layered warm clothing.

These small, inexpensive tips are just a few things to get you started saving money each year on your energy bills.

An owner’s manual for your new home.


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