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November 20, 2013
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Get prepared now for winter heating season

Now is the time to get your home prepped for the heating season in Northern Nevada. Cooler autumn temperatures are already making your furnace work harder, but it’s not too late to get your home winterized to hold down heating costs and to make sure you’re safe and secure over the next few months.

Chad Piekarz, an energy efficiency expert with NV Energy, offers his top eight recommendations for reducing winter heating bills:

Turn it down: NV Energy advises customers to set the furnace thermostat to 58 degrees in the evening or when you’re away from home. When you’re at home, or during waking hours, the thermostat should be set at 68 degrees. Each degree above this setting can increase your energy bill by as much as 2 percent.

Tune it up: Having your furnace professionally serviced will help it work more efficiently. Technicians inspect and clean the blower assembly, adjust the burners, clean the coils and heat exchanger, and perform other maintenance to help reduce your energy consumption. New high-efficiency natural gas furnaces and oil furnaces should be serviced annually. For most other furnaces, a professional service every two years should be sufficient.

Change the filter: Be sure to change furnace filters monthly during the heating season. Filters play an important role by trapping dust particles that can affect the efficiency of your furnace and indoor air quality. Dirty filters make the furnace work harder to keep your house warm.

Upgrade your thermostat: If you have an older manually-operated thermostat, replace it with a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the settings so you won’t have to remember to do it yourself.

Check insulation: Make sure you have sufficient insulation in your attic. Insulation rated at R-38, which should be around 13 inches deep, works well in our climate; heating ductwork should also be insulated with an R-4 to R-6 value.

Prevent escapes: Use caulk to seal the air leaks around windows and install weather stripping on doors to ensure the air you’re heating doesn’t escape. Inexpensive gaskets are also available that can be installed behind electrical outlets that are located on exterior walls. Warm air can leak from those as well.

Use ceiling fans: According to Piekarz, ceiling fans aren’t just for cooling the house down in the summer. They can also move warm air from the ceiling back down to the floor. In most homes, a low-speed clockwise rotation should pull cold air up and push the warm air back down without creating a cool breeze.

Shun space heaters: If possible, try not to rely too much on electric space heaters. It costs considerably more to heat your home with electricity. But if the primary source of heat in your home is electricity, use low wattage space heaters rather than conventional electric baseboard heaters that require more electricity.

“There are always going to be special circumstances and exceptions to the advice we provide to customers,” Piekarz said. “Our main goal is to ensure that our customers are able to use electricity and natural gas safely and efficiently to stay comfortable all year long.”

He noted that many more useful energy savings ideas, along with safety tips, are available on NV Energy’s website, www.NVEnergy.com.

This article was provided to the Bonanza by NV Energy.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 20, 2013 05:13PM Published Nov 20, 2013 02:36PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.