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Preparing for the Cold

From October through March, the average Nebraska home consumes more than one-third of its annual energy requirements to keep warm and cozy. It is no wonder heating is the largest energy expenditure most people have. Here are a few ways to keep a few more energy dollars in your pocket this year:

  1. Evaluate your insulation. Since it is seldom seen, most people do not consider whether their home is adequately insulated. Inside exterior walls and above ceilings, insulation is critical to maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature and lowering energy usage. Throughout Nebraska, attics should be insulated to a minimum R-49. Exterior walls providing an R-value less than 13 definitely have need for additional cavity or exterior sheath insulation.
  2. Seal air leaks. While old windows are often characterized as energy losers, it is usually the air leaks around and through them that causes the greatest energy losses. Worn out frames and cracked seals can allow warm air to escape during the winter. Cracked caulking and improper sealing during installation are additional reasons to investigate.
  3. Tune-up your heating system. Have a certified HVAC specialist perform a tune up to ensure all of the heating system’s parts are in good working order. This includes inspecting your heating system, cleaning and adjusting each component as necessary, replacing the filter, and testing its overall efficiency. Regular maintenance for your HVAC system will prevent breakdowns, increase efficiency, extend the system’s lifespan.
  4. Use space heaters wisely. Space heaters can consume a lot of energy, especially if used continuously. Be mindful of when and where you use them. They can be more effective at reducing heating costs if they are used in one specific room or area instead of the entire house. However, if that room or area is not well insulated and has air leaks, the space heater will run nonstop, resulting in higher energy costs.
  5. Manage the fireplace. If a fire isn’t burning in the fireplace, keep the fireplace damper closed. When the damper is open and there isn’t a fire burning, warm air can escape through the chimney. Purchasing energy-efficient fireplace grates is also a good investment. These grates will help circulate cool air into the fireplace while pushing warm air back into the room.
  6. Install a smart thermostat. Set it up to adjust temperatures to 70°F or lower when you’re home and to automatically lower the set point to 65°F or lower during bedtime hours or while no one is home.

Along with your local utility, we want to help you efficiently keep your home warm this winter. They may also provide EnergyWiseSM incentives for reducing the cost of some efficiency-improvement projects. For more ideas on making your home or business EnergyWiseSM, contact them, or visit for more information.

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