Extreme Cold Weather Forcing Consumers to Pay More in Heating Costs

The list represents 10 steps consumers can take to keep from becoming victims of high energy costs. Not only will these actions save consumers money each year, but they will also help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help our environment."There are few opportunities where consumers can both save money and do the right thing" said Mel Hall-Crawford. "The biggest challenge most consumers have is knowing what actions they can take that really pay off." CFA's 10 Simple Ways to Cut Home Energy Costs was purposely designed to help consumers stay warm while spending less on their energy bills.

The release of this list is an effort by CFA to enable consumers to take charge of energy usage by making the smartest, most economical choices possible. With increased technology and new ways to save, all consumers need is the information to make a difference in their home and purchases.

The list provides three areas of savings: simple maintenance anyone can do, ways to keep cold air out; and smart purchases that save money.

Simple Maintenance

1. Check furnace or heat pump filters once a month and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure.

2. Get your heating system checked up once a year. A licensed professional will make sure that your system is operating efficiently and safely. Checkups can identify problems early.

Keeping The Cold Out And The Warmth In: Seal Unwanted Air Leaks In Your Home

3. Caulk and weather-strip around cold, drafty doors and windows.

4. Check your attic and all accessible exterior walls in your basement or unfinished rooms to make sure they are well insulated. The attic and basement are generally the biggest culprits for air leaks.

5. Make sure all ducts are properly sealed, particularly in areas where the ducts pass through unconditioned spaces. Sealing your ducts can save up to $140 annually on energy bills and help keep you from turning up the thermostat because of one cold room.

6. Seal and weatherproof all exterior openings for plumbing, and electrical service, and look for other openings that let in unwanted cold air, such as gaps around chimneys, recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.

7. Install your storm windows if you have them. Add them if you don't have insulated windows or purchase temporary plastic sheets to cover windows and doors not opened in the winter. If you're planning to replace old windows altogether, choose ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR, the symbol for energy efficiency.

Smart Money Saving Purchases That Really Make A Difference

8. Install a programmable thermostat which will automatically adjust the temperature to meet your comfort needs efficiently during different times of the day and at night. A programmable thermostat can save you $100 a year.

9. Replace your five most frequently used light fixtures, or the light bulbs in them with compact fluorescent ones to save more than $60 each year in energy costs. Their up front price is a bit more, but they will use two-thirds less energy and can last up to ten times longer.

10. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products and appliances for your home. Products that have earned the ENERGY STAR meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy. They use less energy, help prevent air pollution and reduce energy costs in your home. ENERGY STAR refrigerators, for example, use 40% less energy than standard models.

For more info, visit www.buyenergyefficient.org or www.energystar.gov.

The Consumer Federation of America is a non-profit association of 300 consumer groups, with a combined membership of more than 50 million people. CFA was founded in 1968 to advance the consumers' interest through advocacy and education.