Cutting cost at home this winter

Published 7:08 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Energy prices remain high and now we are faced with rising prices for other goods and services.

Our income just does not go as far as it once did. One way to help your income go farther this season is to reduce your heating bill.

Below are several low-cost or no-cost ways you can save money on heating.

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1. Lower the thermostat two degrees from where you usually set it.

2. Turn the thermostat down to 60 or 65 degrees when you are sleeping. The Department of Energy estimates that you can save 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills just by a 10 to 15 percent adjustment during the eight hours you are sleeping.

3. Minimize the use bathroom and kitchen fans. In slightly less than one hour a bathroom fan can suck the heated air out of an average sized house.

4. Close the fireplace damper when the fireplace is not in use. Close to eight percent of the heated air in your home can escape when the damper is open.

5. Put up drapes to add an extra layer of insulation. Close them at night to retain heat and open them on sunny days to let the heat in.

6. Reduce the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Seal air leaks around windows and doors using caulk or weather-stripping.

8. Install storm windows. If that is too costly, invest in a plastic window insulating kit sold in hardware stores.

9. Keep your heating system in good repair and clean or replace the filter regularly.

10. Contact your utility company to schedule a home energy audit.

Another way to cut cost at home is to avoid buying faulty or counterfeit products that waste money. Did you know that some of the electronic products you purchase, including electrical cords, are counterfeit and may not be safe to use? While they may appear to be safe, these products are often poorly made and can cause fires, shocks, explosions and electrocutions.

You can avoid buying counterfeit products by following the safety tips provided by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).

1. Purchase products from reputable retailers and avoid buying deeply discounted products from discount stores, flea markets and bargain warehouses.

2. Use caution when buying online and be wary of buying from unauthorized sellers or unknown companies.

3. Look for certification marks. Electrical goods sold in the U.S. should have been tested for safety a nd bear a certification mark from a laboratory such as UL, CSA or ETL-SEMKO.

4. Check the product packaging to make sure it is in the original package and the label is free of grammatical errors and provides the appropriate warning label for that type of product.

5. Make sure the manufacturer is clearly identified on the label. Legitimate manufacturers want their name to stand out on a label.

Most importantly, trust your instincts. If the price seems too good to be true, then you may be purchasing an unsafe product. To learn more about counterfeit electrical goods go to the ESFI web page located at

If you would like more information about this or other consumer topics call Ann Hudgins at 524-2326, or check out our web site at: