Tips to keep energy costs down this winter

By WKTV News

While temperatures are expected to reach the 70s this week, winter will be here before you know it along with shorter, colder days. That's why National Grid officials say now is a good time to start thinking about preparing your home for the cold winter months ahead.

Keeping homes heated can be costly and energy intensive, but there are some ways to try and cut those energy costs while being more energy efficient and still staying warm.

"Helping our customers and the communities we serve to reduce their energy use is good for our customers and its good for the environment," said Ken Daly, National Grid president for New York. "By taking a few common-sense steps to conserve home heating consumption -- like lowering a thermostat a little or weather-stripping windows - we can all get the most out of our energy dollars and stay warm this winter heating season especially during these challenging economic times."

National Grid offers the following as easy, but important steps you can take to not only make sure your home stays warm, but also to help cut down on heating costs this winter:

  • Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees. In the winter, set the thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and to 58 degrees at night or when away from home for several hours. If you have a heat pump, make sure to slowly increase the temperature to avoid running the emergency heat. You can learn more about your thermostat online by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.
  • Seal air leaks. Seal all holes from pipes and wires that enter/exit the living space. This includes entrances, pull-downs and attic stair openings, light fixtures, pipes and wires. Attic entryways should be weather stripped and insulated.
  • Seal off fireplaces. Never use a fireplace as a heat source for your home. Even as a supplemental heat source, the cold air introduced to a warm home through an open flue isn't as efficient as sealing off a fireplace and using the primary source of heat. For natural gas fireplaces, turn off the pilot light when not in use. Seal off the fireplace area or the flue area to prevent cold air from leaking in.
  • Seal duct work. This is the number one way to conserve energy. Make sure that all ductwork is sealed at joints and intersections with duct sealer or silicone caulk. Otherwise, supply ductwork can leak heated air into the attic or crawl space, and outside air can be drawn into the return ductwork, increasing costs and reducing comfort dramatically. Ducts can be sealed using foil-backed tape or silicon caulking.
  • Lower water heater to 120-125 degrees. Many water heaters are automatically set at 140 degrees. Lowering the temperature on your water heater to between 120 and 125 degrees will reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat the water.
  • Change furnace filters every month. This is the number one reason for furnace breakdowns. Inspect heating and cooling equipment annually, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Have a professional check and clean furnaces once a year.
  • Weatherstrip doors and windows. Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window needs sealing. Air leaks can be sealed with caulking or weather-stripping.
  • Insulate water pipes coming from the water heater. Insulate the first 3- to 6-feet of cold and hot water pipes near the water heater. Insulating all hot water pipes is not necessary where pipes are located in a crawlspace or attic.
  • Add an insulation blanket to water heater. Wrapping the water heater with an insulation blanket can save heating money by slowing the drop in temperature from the hot water tank as it sits unused. Inexpensive insulation kits are available at most home improvement stores.
  • Add insulation to attic. When adding insulation, start at the top and work down only after eliminating air infiltration.
  • Convert from oil to natural gas. Compared to two years ago, the typical bill for a residential heating customer in New York is projected to decrease between 15 percent and 19 percent this coming winter heating season. A combination of market prices, natural gas usage, and weather conditions will ultimately determine a customer's bill, but with the cost savings of natural gas, it remains the best heating source for New York residents because of its convenience, comfort, and comparable environmental benefits. Natural gas burns clean and can increase energy efficiency by up to 30 percent compared to other heating sources. A typical National Grid customer in the northeast United States who converts from heating oil to natural gas saves enough CO2 in one year to equate to about 15 cars being taken off the road.

In addition to following these simple tips, National Grid offers several high efficiency heating program incentives to help make your home more energy efficient.

For more information on National Grid's Energy Efficiency programs and incentives for resident, businesses and commercial customers, visit

Customers can also reach National Grid directly through the company's toll-free customer service line at 1-800-787-1706.

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