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energy wise ■ Cold Enough


For You? What not to do when the temps dip below freezing


BY JOHN DRAKE COOPERATIVE ENERGY ADVISOR


udging by our early winter storm, and the chilly temperatures it left behind, this winter is shaping up to be cool one. Because weather extremes go hand in hand with higher bills, I’m resorting to some good, old fashioned negative reinforcement. Forget the affirmative energy saving advice: If you’re serious about holding down your electric bill this winter, here’s what not to do:


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Don’t light up your wood-burning fireplace. A crackling fire doesn’t contribute much heat to your room. Plus, the open flue sucks the heated air out of your house through the chimney. Burning a fire in the hearth when the temperature dips into the 20s can actually increase your heating bills.


Don’t overstuff your refrigerator. Stacking holiday leftovers on top of each other and squeezing extra containers of food onto every refrigerator shelf prevents the air from circulating around them. This forces the appliance’s compressor to work harder and use more electricity.


Don’t crank the thermostat way up to heat a cold house in a hurry. Turning the heat up to 90 degrees won’t warm up a 70-degree house any quicker than turning it up to 73 degrees, and if you forget to turn the thermostat back down before your house overheats, that’s a waste of energy.


Don’t run bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans any longer than you have to. Flip them on to clear smoke or steam. Once the air clears, turn them off. They pull heated air from your home, which can cause your heater to run longer than necessary.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY Tip of the Month


Don’t use a barbecue grill or a propane patio heater indoors. Even if your central heating system is on the fritz, this is a fire hazard and can expose your family to carbon monoxide poisoning.


Don’t leave a space heater running when you leave the house. Even if the room will be cold when you return, shut off portable heaters if you’re not going to be there to see them topple over, overheat or catch something on fire.


Don’t turn off your ceiling fans. Ceiling fans save energy during the summer and winter. The trick: Reverse the direction that the blades spin. Heat rises, so in the winter, the blades should blow warm air down into the room.


Don’t close the blinds. No matter how cold it is outside, let the sun shine into your room to warm it up and give your heating system a break. Close blinds and curtains after dark.


Don’t close off unused rooms. When you do, you restrict the flow of air that helps your heating system warm your home evenly. Cutting off that air flow makes your heater run longer and work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature in the rest of the house.


Don’t turn your furnace completely off, even if you’re going on an extended winter vacation. Set the thermostat to 55°F. so the plumbing pipes in an unheated house won’t freeze and burst.


For more ways to save energy this winter, please visit www.choctawelectric.coop or togetherwesave.com. ■


John Drake is Choctaw Electric’s energy use specialist. For questions about your home’s energy usage, or to schedule a free home energy audit, please contact John Drake or Mark Zachry at 800-780-6486, ext. 233.


Fighting winter chills? A crackling fire in the hearth warms the house, but don’t let it heat up your electric bill.


To cool energy costs, keep the fireplace damper closed when not in use. Caulk around the fireplace hearth. Double up on wood-earned warmth by lowering the thermostat setting to between 50°F. and 55°F. Learn more at www. energysaver.gov.


Source: US Department of Energy


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