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Brace yourselves for higher heating bills this winter, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin utilities and the Energy Information Administration are warning of higher heating costs this winter given natural gas prices that are twice what they were a year ago.
Depending on how severe the winter is, households could pay hundreds of dollars more this winter compared with last winter, when natural gas prices were much lower.
Citizens Utility Board urges customers to take advantage of Focus on Energy rebates that can help homeowners and renters save this winter if they add some insulation before the cold snaps hit. Here are some tips to consider if you have some money to spend to make some upgrades:
- Add more insulation or upgrade your furnace. Add extra insulation to make your home more comfortable and efficient. Focus on Energy has incentives available for attic insulation and air sealing. Plus, Focus offers heating and cooling rebates if you’re looking to upgrade your equipment to a more efficient unit. Some utilities, such as Xcel Energy, and some cities, such as the City of Milwaukee through its Me2 program, offer enhanced incentives to bring down the cost even further.
- Consider getting an energy audit to identify opportunities to make your home more energy efficient and comfortable. This is especially helpful if your home feels drafty or your energy bills seem higher than average. Focus on Energy trade allies can help with you by coming out to perform a home energy assessment. Find a trade ally near you.
- Adjust your thermostat to match the changing temperatures. When you need to turn the heat on, set the thermostat to 68 degrees and turn it down further when you are asleep or away. Adjust a degree at a time as necessary to balance comfort and energy savings.
- Service your furnace or boiler now to make sure it runs efficiently as the weather starts to cool down. Regularly replace furnace filters to keep your furnace running efficiently. Some utilities offer additional incentives to have your furnace serviced.
- Take advantage of the sun. On cool days, open your curtains and blinds throughout the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. Close curtains when the sun goes down to keep heat from leaking through your windows. Consider adding energy-saving thermal insulation curtains.
- Cook and bake efficiently. Use lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking time. Bake multiple things at once. Use crockpots and microwaves to save energy.
- Keep fridge and freezers full but not crowded. If your fridge or freezer is empty, fill milk jugs with water to fill up space, and throw out old food if your fridge or freezer is too full. Unplugging that second fridge or freezer can help you save.
- Inspect and clean your fireplace. Make sure your fireplace is safe before using. Close fireplace dampers when you are not using the fireplace to prevent heat from escaping.
- Turn off electronics not in use. Electronics that are not being used should be turned off completely to save energy, particularly for televisions, game consoles and home offices. A great idea for TVs, DVD’s and game consoles as well as home office equipment is to plug into power strips and turn the power strip off.