The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 24, 2013

Artic chill sends thermostats higher

The Daily Southerner

TARBORO — The arctic chill this week might come at a high cost to Tarboro residents, in the form of steep heating bills.

“The main thing is, no matter how cold it is, keep your thermostat on a constant temperature,” said Brian Mustard, electric superintendent for the Town of Tarboro. “The rule of thumb is 65 degrees. Every degree above that, you’re going to have a higher bill.”

Piedmont Natural Gas advises using a programmable thermostat, which can save about $180 a year on heating and cooling costs. The gas company also recommends checking furnace air filters once a month and using ceiling fans to help circulate heat.

Even so, higher heating bills are unavoidable during weeks with freezing temperatures. Tonight’s low temperature is 18 degrees, and Friday’s low is 26.

“When you’re looking at 20’s and teens at night, most heating units just aren’t set up for that kind of cold,” Mustard said. “When that happens, they’ve got heat strips that come on. Your heating units really use a lot of energy when the heat strips are running.”

Mustard’s suggestion for saving money on heating costs is to invest a newer, more energy-efficient unit that won’t have to work as hard to heat a home as an older unit.

For those trying to save money on heating bills, turning off the central heating unit is not a good idea, because it can cause the pipes to freeze, according to an inside sales representative with Piedmont Natural Gas.  

“Trying to insulate your house better is another top thing to look for as far as trying to save money on your power costs,” Mustard said. “If the wind blows and you feel a draft or seeing your curtains move, you know your house is not tight and you need some seal work done.”

Mustard also advised closing off rooms that are not often used and opening and closing doors as infrequently as possible to keep heat from escaping the home.

The steep bills next month will follow the typically high bill this month for December, when many residents had their houses decorated with Christmas lights.

“This bill in January, you see it’s a fairly high usage,” Mustard said. “Those lights add up a lot on your electric bill.”

Mustard recommended using LED light bulbs instead of conventional light bulbs to help conserve energy.

The following is a list of Piedmont Natural Gas’ other recommendations for conserving energy and saving money:

Keep your water heater thermostat set to 120 degrees or lower.

Insulate hot water pipes.

Use energy-efficient appliances.

Seal leaks and insulate duct work.

Regularly clean the lint filter in your clothes dryer.

Install low-flow faucets and showerheads.

Turn off lights when leaving a room.