Eight ways to stay comfortable in the winter

From the Citizens Utility Board

Polar vortex or not, Illinois winters are always cold – but staying warm and cozy shouldn’t break the bank. Follow CUB’s simple tips to live comfortably and save, during the cold months ahead.

Heat Efficiently.

Inspect a heating system’s performance by scheduling routine maintenance with a licensed contractor. Remember to replace air filters on a monthly basis, remove dust from the vents, and keep vents open and clear of obstacles to ensure air is distributed evenly throughout the house.

Don’t forget the ducts.

Ducts go unnoticed because they’re buried deep in an attic or basement, but it’s vital for a home with a central heating system to properly seal and insulate them. Tightly sealed and insulated ducts can potentially reduce your energy bills by $120 or more a year.

Add more layers.

Heat flows out of the house most from the attic and basement, where the biggest gaps and cracks can be found. Fix these problem areas by adding foam-insulating sheets to the attic floor and basement ceiling. Here’s a tip for the attic: add more insulation if the existing insulation is even or below the attic floor joists.

Seal heat in.

Hidden air leaks can waste 10 to 15 percent of a home’s heating dollars. Don’t overwork your heating system. Use caulk or weather-stripping to seal small gaps or crevices around doors and windows – or opt for storm doors and windows.

Program comfort.

Save up to $150 a year on heating bills with the purchase of a programmable thermostat. It allows the user to turn the temperature down when he or she is gone or sleeping, and back up to a comfortable level when he or she desires it.

Keep fans spinning.

Fans aren’t just for summer. Knock your thermostat down a few degrees and run a ceiling fan clockwise (from your position looking up) to force warm air down and circulate it. However, once everybody leaves the room, remember to conserve electricity by turning it off.

Venture outside.

A damaged roof or chimney provides the perfect opening for chilly air to sneak in. Prevent energy bills from creeping up by repairing broken shingles and checking the hcimney, gutters and downspouts for repairs.

Consumer Alert for Northern Illinois:

From now through May, you can snag up to $120 in utility rebates for certain smart thermostats. These money-saving devices let you remotely control your temperature settings from your smartphone or tablet. For more details, visit CUB’s Energy Efficiency page at CitizensUtilityBoard.org.

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