MADISON (WKOW) -- Energy experts say warmer temperatures this winter and lower fuel prices should cut down on heating costs this winter. But they still warn against cranking up the heat. You may be tempted with cold temperatures and snow coming for southern Wisconsin this weekend. Angie's List has some tips on how to stay warm and save even more money.
Dan Welklin is a "comfort consultant." He pokes around attics and crawl spaces assessing "home performance" - the combination of H-V-A-C efficiency and how well a house maintains its temperature. "There's no reason to upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace if there's something wrong with your duct work in the attic."
Welklin says sealing air leaks is the easiest and least expensive way to improve your home's energy efficiency. He suggests doing your own depressurization test to help find leaks. "Turn on your clothes dryer, your bath exhaust vents and your kitchen exhaust vent and then go around everywhere in the home and feel for cold air leaks. The best time to do this is on a very cold day."
Once you seal any leaks, shift your focus to the heating system. Angie's List Founder Angie Hicks says, "The biggest user of energy in your home is your HVAC system, so proper maintenance is going to save you money. Change your furnace filter each month and be sure to get a furnace tune-up this fall."
Insulation is another key. Welklin says you need 10 to 12 inches in your attic. Any more than that may not be cost-effective.
And if you use a space heater, be careful! Improper use makes them the second leading cause of home fires, and running them constantly will hit you hard in the wallet. Welklin says, "A 15 dollar space heater running 24-7 could add over a hundred dollars a month to your bill."
More advice from Angie: use your fireplace wisely. It feels great when you're next to it, but it can allow a lot of cold air in.
Also, install a programmable thermostat and lower your home's temperature by at least three degrees from where you normally keep it for eight hours or more to see noticeable savings.