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Take simple steps today to stay warm, save energy all winter

Real winter weather is expected to return to the upper Midwest this winter, according to the Farmersí Almanac Ė but Wisconsin residents can keep energy bills in check by taking steps now to improve heating efficiency.

Energy costs for heating and cooling make up more than 40 percent of home energy expenses, on average, according to the Energy Information Administration. These are costs that can be managed through home winterization and simple energy controls. Lake Mills Light & Water recommends the following winterizing steps:

  • Replace the air filter on the home furnace. If needed, schedule a maintenance appointment with a local heating contractor.
  • Clear heating vents throughout the home, making sure that furniture or other items arenít placed in front of or blocking vents.
  • Check for air leaks, which can significantly impact heating costs. For example, on a windy day, run a hand or carry a lit incense stick along doors, windows and vents to locate air leaks. Use rope caulk along any joints where air is coming through. Remove any window air conditioning units and store them for the winter, if possible.
  • Consider the homeís insulation needs, and if needed, add insulation in the attic. Itís typically less expensive to insulate the attic than the walls.
Next, put in place home energy controls that save electricity and money, including:
  • Install and use a programmable thermostat, which can be set to automatically lower the temperature during the day when no one is home, and overnight, when warm blankets serve as a less expensive alternative to turning up the heat. Turning the temperature down by 10 degrees at night uses about 10 percent less energy.
  • Open curtains or drapes to let in the sunís heat during the day. Close them at night to trap heat inside.
  • Use HomeEnergySuite, a free online tool provided by Lake Mills Light & Water, to create a customized energy usage report, to explore why a bill may have changed year to year, and to identify more ways to save energy.
For more information, contact Cory Neeley at (920) 648-4026.