GREENSBORO, N.C. - If you think a drop in the temperature means your power bill is going up, you're probably right. However, there are a few easy ways you can keep costs down.
Some options are obvious. Turn off lights when you don't need them. Turn down your thermostat. Make sure your windows and doors close tightly. "If you were to take each one of those small air gaps and add them up in your house, it might be equivalent of leaving a window open several inches," Duke Energy spokesman Davis Montgomery said.
But, did you know switching your ceiling fans to rotate in a clockwise direction will actually push warm air back down into the room? Washing your clothes in cold water also saves money. Plus, changing out the air filter in your furnace will save you cash.
If you do decide to lower the temperature in your home, Duke Energy recommends doing it gradually. "Don't come in and say, 'I'm going to turn down this thermostat five or ten degrees.' You're not going to be comfortable. Let's do it one degree at a time. Find that temperature that's going to be comfortable, adjust to that, put on some heavier clothes and take it down another degree," Montgomery said.
If you think shutting off your heating system all day while you're at work will save money, it probably won't. Duke Energy says, most people come back home and crank the heat back up and because everything has become so cold, it doesn't really save you anything. "What's happened is everything in the house has gotten cold...the sheet rock, the floors, everything has gotten cold. Now, you're going to have to heat it all back up to get warm," Montgomery added.
Unplugging your cell phone chargers and other items in your home will also save you money. It can shave ten or even twenty percent off your bill every month. The power companies call things like cell phone chargers "vampires" because they literally drain energy all day.
North Greensboro Ace Hardware Manager Travis Hall said customers are already coming in to purchase items to winterize their homes. Hall says putting special "plastic wrap" on windows does work. He's tried it himself. "I've got it on my house and noticed I saved about $15 a month last year from changing out all the weather-stripping around the doors and doing the film on the windows," Hall said. "I could tell just sitting on the couch in the living room that we didn't have as much cold air coming through as we had the year before."
Duke Energy has other suggestions and ways to lower your power bill posted on its website. There's even a "Heating System Calculator" to help you cut costs.