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Hot tips for cool winters

When temperatures drop, don't let your energy bills spike!

CLEVELAND — When you get your heating bills this time of year, do you think 'Oh no!'

Jo Jo Carcioppolo does and that's why she let us tag along as an expert from Dominion Energy gave her some hot tips to cut costs in cold months.

"The easiest way to control your energy costs is to turn down your thermostat," says spokesman Neil Durbin.

Jo Jo keeps hers at 70 degrees during the day.  Neil says take it down to 68. And at night, drop it all the way to 58.

"While you're sleeping," he says, "you're not really going to notice."

But, he says, never turn it off completely. That's where you'll really have to use more energy to get it back to the comfortable level.

Jo Jo has another common problem... drafts.

Neil says you can use an ordinary card from a deck of playing cards to test your doors and windows. "If a playing card can easily fit in the gap, then you might need a little more weather stripping," he says.

A low tech, low cost solution for the threshold of outside doors - use a towel wrapped with duct tape. 

Did you know that the water heater is the second biggest user of energy in the house? Durbin showed us ways to be more efficient.

"You've got it currently about halfway between the warm and the hot," he explains. "If you set it directly to the warm setting, that will be at the magic one hundred and twenty degrees to save your money and keep your family safe."

As for the furnace, have it checked twice a year for proper functioning, including changing filters for efficiency. Filters should also be changed regularly in your dryer, otherwise it has to work harder using more energy.

Jo Jo admits to two other energy eaters; washing with hot water when she could use cold water... and drying 'small' loads.

Durbin says "there's a certain amount of energy the dryer's going use just to start up, so it's better to make sure you've got a full load."

Finally, there were some surprising energy issues in the kitchen. Like the twenty-five degrees you lose every time you open the oven door. 

Use the light instead!

And, when cooking a big roast, cut it in half. When you do that, you reduce by half the amount of distance the heat has to travel to get to the middle of the cut.

Durbin says changes like these will help you save ten to fifteen per cent on your bill. Even more, if you invest in new windows like Jo Jo did.

"You used to not even be able to hang out in our kitchen because it felt like you need your winter coat," she says.  "So to be able to use our house, yes. Replacing our windows definitely paid off!"

Here are other ways to save:

Get your own home assessment. Some energy companies will send someone to your house for about $50. Look into rebates you can get from your supplier for energy efficient appliances.

And shop around!  There are other providers, many of which probably offer lower prices than you are paying now.

Here are links to resources:

Columbia Gas Ohio

Dominion Energy

Duke Energy

AEP Ohio

First Energy 

First Energy Products

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