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Keep Home Energy Costs Down when Temperatures Drop

Heating bills are likely to be higher than usual this winter with the frequent freezes Louisiana has been having. Homeowners can make simple changes to help their homes run more efficiently and reduce costs.
West Monroe -- (Tobie Blanchard) Heating bills are likely to be higher than usual this winter with the frequent freezes Louisiana has been having. Homeowners can make simple changes to help their homes run more efficiently and reduce costs.

LSU AgCenter housing specialist Claudette Reichel said a first step is to seal air leaks.

“You lose the heated air when you have holes and gaps that can be sealed,” Reichel said.

Putting gaskets behind outlet and light switch faceplates and weather stripping around doors and windows can make your home more airtight.

Reichel, who oversees the LSU AgCenter’s showcase home, LaHouse in Baton Rouge, said sealing the ceiling can also save money.

“Go up in the attic and peek below the insulation and look for gaps and holes that can be sealed. One big example of that in newer homes is the recessed can lights in the ceilings,” Reichel said, adding that replacing older recessed can lights with ICAT lights stops leakage.

Changing out air filters and using a programmable thermostat also will make a difference, she said.

“If you have central heat and central air, leakage through the ducts can be a major energy loss and comfort loss,” Reichel said.

She said to seal the ducts with mastic, not duct, tape and have your heating unit serviced yearly to help ensure optimum performance.

Reichel said bigger jobs that offer return on the investment include replacing an old, inefficient heater with an Energy Star heater and replacing single-pane windows and old doors with ones with Energy Star labels.

Adding insulation under raised floors or to walls with no insulation will improve comfort and reduce energy bills, but Reichel said in Louisiana’s climate this has to be done correctly to avoid moisture problems.

She also said this time of the year people have to be careful about carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Most people know that carbon monoxide is deadly at high levels, but at low levels it can cause flu-like symptoms, and that is caused by any sort of burning of fuel combustion,” she said.

Some carbon monoxide detectors allow for continuous monitoring of carbon monoxide levels in the home, so you know not only when the level might reach harmful levels, but you can see when levels rise and fall.
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