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How to save money, energy this winter

Midwest utility incrases
Posted at 9:00 AM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 21:15:39-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Food and gas prices are getting more expensive, and winter utility bills are likely next.

Depending on how cold it gets, natural gas prices could be 30-50% higher.

Propane could rise about 50% and electricity 6-15%, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration

You can’t control the weather, but you can make your home more efficient and save some money with help from heating and cooling expert, Dan Heydon.

First, let’s go over how air moves in a home.

“The cooling always wants to stay low,” Heydon explained. “Heating wants to [rise and circulate] but heating also wants to go back to the cold air return faster than cooling does.”

You can keep your furnace from running constantly and the heat from escaping with a few tips.

First, remove air conditioning window units.

“Every window air conditioner has a grill on the front side of it, there is a little plastic damper that is protecting us from a zero-degree day,” Heydon said. “This needs to come out of the window and be stored for the winter.”

Make sure exterior doors are sealed.

That double seal, it slides here and pull it all the way to the edge of the door,” Heydon said. “When you are doing that, you have a tighter lip.”

Close fireplace flues, the gap that allows smoke to flow through the chimney, when unused.

"This is the exhaust vacuum for the entire house. Everything in this house that is heated is going to want to go right up this flue. So, these are huge losses as far as comfort and utility expense. Two things would be really good for this one, obviously having a really good sealed flue that you could seal and still use this. Even a glass door makes a really significant difference on the front of this," Heydon explained.

Here are a few common heating questions you may have:

Should I keep doors between rooms open or closed? 

“That’s a myth as far as shutting doors," Heydon said. “It doesn’t help you and it really hurts you comfort-wise. But the only place you might want to do that is if you have an area you aren’t using on the second floor, you might want to shut that down.”

Should I wrap my hot water heater in an insulated blanket?

“Most of them are sitting right next to a furnace, like this one is, so they are always being tempered. If this were in an unconditioned space, yes. But not in this application, actually in most applications you won’t have to insulate a water heater,” Heydon advised.

Should I set my thermostat to a cooler temperature while I’m not home?

Heydon says that will save you money, especially in the winter.

Cold winter air holds less moisture than warm summer air; therefore, it takes less energy to heat up that cold air and it does so faster. Like how a pool takes a long time to warm up through the summer compared to the air.

That is known as the specific heat capacity, and it’s about four times higher for water than air - twice as much for water vapor.

So, seal those cracks, keep the interior doors open and get ready for cold temperatures!