Magazine article Black Enterprise

Five Low-Cost Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill: Keep Your Family-And Your Pockets-Warm This Winter

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Five Low-Cost Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill: Keep Your Family-And Your Pockets-Warm This Winter

Article excerpt

HEATING COSTS ARE SKYROCKETING. HOUSEHOLDS will shell out a whopping $986 for heating this winter, up from $889 in the 20%-2007 season--a near 11% increase. What's more, prices can spike as high as $200 in February because of the chilly temperatures, according to Lansing, Michigan-based energy provider Consumers Energy. Here are a few quick tips to help you stay toasty and save money while you're at it.

LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD, You may find relief in an unlikely source--your energy provider. Level payment plans, such as the one offered by New York-based energy provider Con Edison, allow customers to pay a set amount each month based on factors such as a household's past energy use and weather projections. At the end of the 12-month plan period, the customer either pays the difference between the company's projection and the customer's actual usage, if more energy was used, or receives a refund or credit if less energy was used. Check with your local energy provider for details.

TURN ON YOUR CEILING FAN. Reverse the motor so that your ceiling fan operates in a clockwise direction, at the lowest speed setting. "Because heat rises, you have the option to reverse the air setting to push that warm air down in the winter," says Maria Vargas, a spokeswoman from Energy Star, a joint program between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Using your ceiling fan can shave $10 off your heating bill.

KEEP WARM AIR IN. You can save up to 20% on heating costs by sealing and insulating your home. Seal in heat by weatherstripping and caulking around all windows and doors, cracks, and places where pipes, electrical wires, and ducts enter the home. Weatherstripping creates a tight seal between the moving parts of doors and windows, whereas caulking seals gaps around nonmoving parts of doors and windows and other small openings where air can escape. …

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