Last year on Christmas Day, many Hartselle residents were wearing shorts because the weather was so mild. It was easy to overlook the extremely cold days in January, until February and March utility bills arrived. With record-setting cold temperatures in January – Tuesday, Jan. 7 set an all-time high for energy usage across TVA’s system – many Hartselle Utilities were caught off-guard when they received their utility bills.
“Shocked is the better term,” says General Manager Bob Sittason. “People had not seen a high bill in two years. We all remembered the mild Christmas Day, but in January temperatures dropped to single digits several times. February bills were much higher than what many of our customers expected.
“The Farmers Almanac, TVA forecasters and others have predicted this coming winter will be wet and chilly, and possibly just as extreme as last year,” Sittason adds.
When the temperature drops outside, there are things you can do to keep your energy usage – and your utility bill – lower. Here are some tips:
1. Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower. For every degree you consistently lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save three to five percent on heating costs.
2. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees when leaving home for an extended time. Please note that heat pumps should only be set back 2 degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating, which carries higher costs.
3. Check air filters. Dirty air filters increase your energy usage and can also damage your heating. Be sure to use filters approved for your specific system.
4. Caulk around windows and replace old weather stripping around doors to keep the cold air out.
5. Reduce cold-air drafts around windows – typically seen in older homes – by using heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets or tape clear plastic film inside your windows. Ensure the plastic is sealed tightly to reduce cold-air drafts.
6. Close your fireplace damper when not in use.
7. Schedule service for your heating system, and ask what maintenance is required to keep it running optimally. Keep up with maintenance milestones.
8. Open curtains on your south-facing windows on sunny days to naturally heat your home with sunlight. Close the curtains at night to reduce any chill or drafts.
You can find additional energy-saving suggestions on TVA’s
Energy Right Solutions website at energyright.com.