Other winter tips to save energy and heat loss include:
-- Open window shades and drapes on the sunny side of the house to let nature add warmth to rooms. Close drapes at night to keep heat inside.
-- Make sure the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use.
-- Use bathroom and kitchen fans when showering or cooking.
-- Several light blankets trap more warm air than one heavy cover at bedtime.
-- Move regularly used chairs or couches away from outside walls and windows to avoid feeling the cold seeping indoors and the urge to turn the heat up.
-- Insulate the back of the door leading to the attic.
-- If designing a new home or remodeling, recessed lights can conduct heat up the recessed chimneys and away from living rooms.
-- Seal gaps with fiberglass insulation or caulking around flues, chimneys or pipes.
-- Weatherstrip around doors, especially around doors that lead to the outside or to unheated areas like garages or porches.
-- Seal windows with a variety of options. Heat sensitive plastic film can be applied inside homes with the help of a hair dryer. There are also insulated shades, freezer tape, storm windows and caulking.
-- Caulking can be taken to what seems like extremes, but it can help when used where fireplaces meet walks, along tops of windows and doors, where door frames meet exterior siding, outlet openings, gaps between the foundation and the house.
-- Change furnace filters monthly.
-- Use fans to improve air circulation.
-- Increase appliance efficiency by cleaning reflector pans under burners to help focus heat.
-- Do not use gas ovens with open doors to add heat to a room as it can cause carbon monoxide to build.
-- Vent clothes dryers to the outside and clean lint screens before each load. And don't overload dryers, which takes more energy.
-- Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator, which can also help cool the fridge and save energy. Cover liquids in the fridge. If left uncovered, liquids add humidity to the fridge and make it work longer. Occasional vacuuming of condenser coils at the back of the refrigerator is also recommended with the reminder to unplug the fridge first.
-- Keep the refrigerator between 37 degrees and 40 degrees and the freezer at zero. If the fridge has gauges that read high, medium or low use cold milk and frozen ice cream as temperature indicators.
-- Empty vacuum cleaner bags frequently to increase efficiency.
-- Where possible, replace bulbs with a lower wattage. Dirt absorbs light so keep lamps and bulbs clean. Fluorescent light bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
-- Use tape or caulk to cover unused keyholes on exterior doors.
-- Carbon monoxide detectors that have an audible alarm should be placed near bedrooms, and provide early warning detection in the case of dangerous carbon monoxide build-ups. Minnegasco recommends installing a device with a digital readout.
-- Annual check-ups of furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters and other fuel-burning appliances are recommended.
(Sources: Reliant Energy Minnegasco; Xcel Energy, formerly Northern States Power; Dick Parks Gas Co. Nisswa)
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