Rising heat costs can be prevented

Residents can prevent heating bills from soaring by properly preparing their homes for winter.

At night, Bowling Green temperatures are expected to fall as low as 34 degrees this week.

Taking the appropriate steps to insulate homes now could save homeowners enough on their electric bills to pay for the upgrades necessary to properly insulate their houses.

David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, said changing the filter on a furnace monthly could reduce heating costs up to 5 percent.

“The filters on a forced air furnace, they can get clogged, and if that happens they have to operate more, they operate less efficiently,” he said.

“So you want to make sure that you change those filters so you’re not paying too much to heat your place.”

Cracks can develop around windows that allow hot air to escape and cold air to enter.

Barry Matchett, policy advocate at the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago, said people should check the windows and re-seal them if necessary.

“They should look at places around windows and around doors to make sure there aren’t obvious places where air is leaking out of the house,” he said. “What you’re trying to do is tighten the home envelope.”

Matchett said windows should be sealed with caulking and recommended foam sealing for doors. He also recommended replacing old windows with double- and triple-pane windows that are energy efficient.

Laura Rutherford, a weatherization assistant specialist at Crosswalk Community Action Agency in West Frankfort, Ill., also recommended sealing around light sockets.

“There’s a lot of air that comes in the light sockets, and we recommend that they would put foam in those,” she said.

Along with sealing doors and windows, another important part of keeping houses warm is good insulation.

“Have good insulation in your attic, because heat rises, obviously,” said Billy Woosley, an estimator at All Electric Services in Carbondale, Ill.

Matchett said most of the things people can do to make their homes more heat efficient are simple, but they could cost a lot.

“There’s no silver bullet that everyone is hiding,” he said. “You can also characterize it this way: It’s about how much money you want to spend.”

Matchett said although paybacks on insulation upgrades could take only one or two years, it is dependent on the cost of gas and electricity.

“It kind of depends on a homeowner-by-homeowner basis,” he said. “If I, in Chicago, am paying nine dollars for gas to heat my home, then my payback is going to be like a year. But if I’m only paying $6.50 this winter then the payback may be three years.”

Kolata said there are companies that offer energy audits, where they examine a home and try to determine where heat or electricity is being wasted. The findings and suggestion could help save money, he said.

The BG News contributed to this report.