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Cold Weather Tips to Keep Your Bill from Overheating
Jacksonville, FL - Energy consumption increases dramatically during very cold weather. Keep these tips in mind when the temperatures dip below freezing.
Save energy by setting your thermostat at 68 degrees – set it even lower at night or when you’re not at home. Heating accounts for up to 50% of energy consumption for the typical home.
- You’ll save up to 22% on your heating costs compared to a setting of 72 degrees.
- Every degree above 68 will add 5% to the heating portion of your electric bill.
- Make sure you set your thermostat 3 to 5 degrees cooler when you’re not at home.
- When you raise your thermostat; ONLY raise it one or two degrees at a time so that the heat strips don’t come on.
- Heat pumps have Emergency and/or Auxiliary settings. When your thermostat indicates your heat pump is using Emergency or Auxiliary power, it has turned on electric heat strips within the unit. These strips warm the air inside your home when the heat pump alone can’t and are three times more expensive to operate.
- If you feel a chill, dress in layers
- Watch JEA’s YouTube video, Heat Strips Can Be Costly
Avoid drafts– check your windows and doors to see if they’re airtight. Use rolled towels or blankets to block gaps under doors or leaks in windows.
Insulate against heat loss – Insulate and weather-strip your home to prevent heat loss and keep cold air out.
- Weather-strip around doors and windows.
- Seal cracks or crevices where two different building materials meet.
- It's also a good idea to weather-strip between heated and unheated areas such as garages, basements and attic openings
Space heater safety – Space heaters use less electricity than your heat pump, however, only if you turn down the thermostat and only have the space heater on when you are in the room. Note: Space heaters can greatly reduce your heating bill but are dangerous if you do not properly operate and maintain them according to the manufacturer’s instructions, so please use due care.
- Never leave a space heater unattended
- Never leave a space heater on while sleeping
- Never place a space heater close to flammable items
- Make sure the space heater has “tip over protection”
- Watch JEA’s YouTube video on Space Heater Safety
Air filters – Check and/or change air filters every month. Only use the filter designed for your system. Higher micron filters (thicker) can be seen by your heat pump as a dirty filter, which can increase operating costs.
Protect your pipes before cold weather –
- Detach all those water hoses from the house and drain them before storing for the winter.
- Cover all pipes in your home’s crawl space and attic with some type of insulation. You can find pipe wrapping materials at any hardware or building supply store. Consider covering your outdoor faucets, as well.
- Cold winds blowing through holes and crevices in your house won’t only drive up your heating bill but can also freeze nearby pipes. Use weather-stripping and caulk to save your money and your pipes. Be careful not to plug air vents that are used by combustible appliances such as your gas water heater.
- Know exactly where that master water shut off valve is for your house way before you actually need to use it. It is usually located where the water line enters your house (or near the water heater or washing machine). Paint it a bright color, keep it accessible, and make sure everyone in the household knows where it is.
If a freeze is in the forecast –
- Drip the faucets. A trickle of hot and cold water could be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Letting warm water drip overnight from a faucet next to an outside wall will do the trick.
- Open the cabinets. Allow your pipes to steal warmth from the room by opening the cabinet doors under the sinks. Especially those next to an outside wall.
If your pipes freeze –
- If you turn on the faucets and no water comes out, leave the faucets on and call a plumber. If you can determine that a burst has occurred, leave the faucet on and turn the water off at the master shut-off valve.
- Never try to unfreeze a pipe using an open flame due to the potential of fire.
- Use a low heat setting on a blow dryer with caution—keep in mind that if there is a burst somewhere in the line, you will have water gushing there once thawed. Don’t just heat one area of the pipe as you can cause it to burst. And, again, know where that master water shut-off valve is so you can stop the water quickly if needed.
JEA is the largest not-for-profit, community-owned electric utility in Florida and the eighth largest in the United States, providing electric, water and sewer service to accounts in northeast Florida.
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