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Ways to lower your winter utility bills

Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing this weekend. And with cooler temperatures comes higher utility bills.

Heating and cooling costs make up nearly 50 percent of the average household utility bills, according to Boone Electric Cooperative.

“They need to start thinking about their heating system now,” Christi Miller with Boone Electric Cooperative said. “It’s time to call that expert out to make sure your heating system is efficient, is working properly, before the cold hits.”

But there are several things you can do yourself around the home for little to no cost.

“Any place you can go around and feel a breeze, find a way to seal that breeze up and help on your energy bills,” Miller said.

Use calk and weather stripping around windows and doors to block out drafts, Miller said. Consider adding foam insulation pads behind exterior wall outlets and switch pads.

Lowering your thermostat one degree can decrease your heating costs by 3 percent, according to Miller.

Change air filters on a regular basis. Turn down your water heater. And put foam insulation around exposed water heater pipes.

“The other thing that people can think about is insulation in their home,” Miller said. “Has it been several years since you’ve added insulation in your attic? Heat rises, heat goes out the top of your house, so that’s one thing you don’t notice.”

Using a space heater is only efficient if you use it to heat one room and turn down the heat in the rest of the house. But using calk, weather stripping and insulation is a better investment in the long run,according to Boone Electric Cooperative.

Boone Electric and Columbia Water and Light also offer a Home Performance with Energy Star program. The electric companies will give customers rebates if the homeowners have a professional come out and diagnose problem areas in the home and make the recommended changes. Examples of some of these changes include replacing old windows and air ducts.

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