Stay warm while managing winter energy use
As freezing temperatures continue to cover the South this winter, in addition to being safe, it's important to understand how extreme weather affects your energy use and steps you can take to help manage your usage.
Why? Because heating and air conditioning account for nearly half of your home's electric bill, and heaters have to work even harder to keep your living area warm. Even the most efficient heating systems set at the recommended 68°F have to work overtime to keep your home warm when it's extremely cold outside.
Here are some ways to manage your energy use in extreme winter weather:
- Set the thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting, which for many is 68°F in the winter. For every degree higher, energy consumption is increased about 4 percent.
- Bundle up by wearing multiple layers of clothing or wrapping in blankets. This is the easiest and most efficient way to stay warm.
- Keep your hot water heater a little below the recommended temperature setting. Setting the heater to a slightly cooler setting of about 120°F reduces the amount of energy used to heat the water while still keeping the water warm enough for home use. In fact, each time you lower the temperature by 10°F, you'll save 3-5 percent on your water heating costs.
- Wrap exposed pipes and water heaters that are in unconditioned spaces. According to Weather.com, in the South, pipes that are outside or in an area of the house that is not heated generally start to freeze when the outside temperature reaches about 20°F.
- Let the sunshine in. The solar heat gain from the day can keep your home warm during daylight. (And closing the drapes or blinds at night can help keep the heat in and insulate the inside-preventing as much as 15% of the heat from escaping.)
- Reverse your ceiling fan in winter to spin clockwise, which takes the rising hot air and pushes it down.
- Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
- Seal leaks around doors and windows with caulk or weather stripping to keep heat from escaping and cold drafts from coming into your home.
For more information on how to save energy, go to Ways to Save, or if you have questions about your bill, call 1-800-532-1502.