Seven tips for staying warm and saving energy when the weather turns chilly

Seven tips for staying warm and saving energy when the weather turns chilly
Ceiling fans should be set to run clockwise during cold months to push warm air down from the ceiling. (Getty Images)

This cold and wet week is a clear sign that real winter weather isn’t far behind. As you pull out the heavy coat from mothballs and toss on a scarf and gloves, here are some simple tips for saving energy at home when the thermometer takes a dive:

Flip the switch on your ceiling fans – Make sure you set your ceiling fans to turn clockwise, to move heated air trapped at the ceiling back down to where you can enjoy it.

Check the thermostat – Reset your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day, and even cooler at night when you are snug in bed. Try an electric blanket and set the overnight temperature even lower. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to warm up the home about 15 minutes before your morning alarm goes off.

Worship the sun – Open drapes or blinds to take advantage of the sun’s warmth. Keep them closed on the shaded side of the house and at night.

Plug drafts and close vents – Close all louvers and vents in the attic or foundation walls during the winter. Make sure to keep garage doors closed. And use weather stripping to seal drafts around windows and doors.

Wrap your water heater (and your toes) – If your electric water heater is warm to the touch, it may need a wrap. Check with the manufacturer to see if it has an R value of at least 24. If not, invest in an easy-to-install, insulating water heater blanket, available at most home improvement stores. By the way, research also shows that wearing socks will help keep your tootsies insulated from cold floors and you more comfortable on wintry days.

Forget the fireplace – It might seem like a great idea on a cold night, but many older fireplaces are energy drainers, not savers, because warm air mostly escapes up the chimney. Be sure the flue is closed if you are not using the fireplace.

Be smart with space heaters – Deploy them only in rooms you are actively using. Choose models that are controlled by thermostat.

For more ideas on how to stay comfortable and save energy when it turns cold, go to www.alabamapower.com and search for “seasonal tips.”

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