Buyer Beware: Save on home heating costs

(WestColumbia) Nov. 15, 2004 - Shannon Moulder and her roommate live in what looks like a cozy home in West Columbia, but she says they're sweating it out thanks to a nearly $200 electric bill last month, "It was $193.20. ... Yeah, it burns."

Shannon says she doesn't think it should cost that much to heat 1000 square feet. Eric Boomhower with SCE&G agrees, "Having seen their bills, I can tell you their bills are far higher than they should be."

Boomhower says the problem is not how much energy they're using, it's how much they're wasting.

He spotted a problem at the front door, "I can see a little bit of sunlight down here." His first tip: be a draft dodger. Leaks around doors and windows are enemy number one, "That tells you that's a place where air can be leaving the house and cool air can be coming in."

Boomhower found another problem at the back door, "This is a real good example of a weather seal stripping here along the door frame that's in need of repair, actually in need of replacement." He says that easy fix will probably cost about $3.

Dirty filters are another enemy, "That means your home's heating unit is having to work that much harder." His second tip is to change basic filters every 30 days. He says a four-pack of filters costs about $4. A WIS viewer sent in a good tip for this. Change your filters when you get the power bill.

He says the location of furniture in the living room is in the way of a vent, "There's your vent that's working so hard to heat this room. It's having to fight with eight-feet of couch. ... This is costing you money ... every month." Tip three is, of course, make sure your vents aren't obstructed.

Finally, Boomhower says, before you reach to turn up the heat remember every degree matters, "For every degree above 68 degrees that you're setting your thermostat, you could be seeing your energy bill go up as much as five to ten percent."

Shannon says any savings will help her chill about her electric bill, "It's kind of embarrassing. You think you're doing a good job on conserving energy, but you're really not."

For more information contact the United Way by dialing 211, contact the Cooperative Ministry at 799-3853 and call the Salvation Army at 765-0260. Apply for help at the Salvation Army in person at the corner of Elmwood and Main Streets.

Here are some other tips to save on the heating bill: Close vents in rooms that are not used. When the sun comes knocking, raise the blinds and let it in. Dust or vacuum all radiator surfaces. Dust is a great insulator and tends to build up on radiators and baseboard heat vents, blocking the heat. Buy an electric blanket, because it's much less expensive than heating your bedroom.

Sealing leaks is the single biggest thing you can do to save money on your annual heating bill.

By Judi Gatson
Updated 6:39pm by Chris Rees