For most of Georgia, the heating season is already here, and winter is right around the corner. This means that many local homeowners are already dreading their next electric bill or invoice from the oil company. High utility costs are real. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners who use traditional heating oil to run their furnaces spend $1,700 on average. For natural gas, the heating expenditure is closer to $700.

With the cost of utilities rising, it’s smart to look for ways to save. Keep in mind that Carrolton has more heating days and fewer cooling days than other parts of Georgia. All the small things that you do to reduce your power use will add up to big savings.

Thermostat Settings

Don’t touch the dial. Keep your thermostat set to 68 degrees or less when you’re home. At night and when you’re away, push it back to 55 degrees. Every degree lowers your heating costs by 2 percent. For those of you with heat pumps, maintain a 2-degree temperature swing to prevent the electric resistance backup from running. If your thermostat is old or inaccurate, upgrade to a programmable model. These units can reduce your annual utility bills by 10 percent.

Passive Solar Heat

Even on the coldest days, the sun provides free heat. Keep south-facing blinds and curtains open during daylight hours. Remove screens, and wash windows. These steps can improve passive heat gain by 50 percent, which means that your heater won’t have to run as often. Distribute accumulated heat by running ceiling fans clockwise. At night, cover windows with insulating curtains or blinds to seal in the heat.

Weatherization

About one-quarter of the heat in your home escapes through small cracks and gaps. That’s a scary statistic. Fortunately, you can prevent your dollars from running away by sealing windows, doors and small cracks. All you need is a package of foam weather stripping and a tube of caulk to make a big difference. You might also have your ducts professionally sealed to improve efficiency and air quality.

Heater Tune-Ups

Investing in preventive maintenance improves efficiency and extends the life of your heating system. During a tune-up, a technician from Merrell & Associates will inspect each part of the system, lubricate moving parts, clean burners and make adjustments. Whether you have a furnace or a heat pump, this can cut your heating costs by 5 percent. Maintain a high level of performance by changing air filters throughout the season.

Now is the time to think about putting these tips to work and performing heating maintenance. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to schedule your annual tune-up. Before you call, check for special offers on AC tune-ups, repairs and other services from Merrell & Associates.