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POV: Stay warm, pay less this season

The author is a National Grid media representative for the Upstate region of New York.

It may not be too cold yet, but winter will be here before you know it along with shorter, colder days. That’s why now is a good time to start thinking about preparing your home for the cold winter months ahead. When it’s icy outside, we step inside to shake off the cold, but keeping our homes heated can be costly and energy intensive.

The following are several easy, but important steps you can take to not only make sure your home stays warm, but also to help cut down on heating costs this winter:

• Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees. In the winter, set the thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and to 58 degrees at night or when away from home for several hours. If you have a heat pump, make sure to slowly increase the temperature to avoid running the emergency heat. You can learn more about your thermostat online by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.

• Seal air leaks. Seal all holes from pipes and wires that enter/exit the living space. This includes entrances, pull-downs and attic stair openings, light fixtures, pipes and wires. Attic entryways should be weather stripped and insulated.

• Seal off fireplaces. Never use a fireplace as a heat source for your home. Even as a supplemental heat source, the cold air introduced to a warm home through an open flue isn’t as efficient as sealing off a fireplace and using the primary source of heat. For natural gas fireplaces, turn off the pilot light when not in use. Seal off the fireplace area or the flue area to prevent cold air from leaking in.

• Seal duct work. This is the number one way to conserve energy. Make sure that all ductwork is sealed at joints and intersections with duct sealer or silicone caulk. Otherwise, supply ductwork can leak heated air into the attic or crawl space, and outside air can be drawn into the return ductwork, increasing costs and reducing comfort dramatically. Ducts can be sealed using foil-backed tape or silicon caulking.

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