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Take control of winter heating costs

By Miriam Hodgman

Truckee SnowWinter starts officially December 21, but cold temperatures have already arrived and furnaces are working overtime to keep northern Nevada homes warm and comfortable.

There are a few simple steps homeowners can take now to keep their heating bills under control this winter, according to Chad Piekarz, an energy efficiency expert with NV Energy.

He said the easiest way to reduce heating costs is set your thermostat a little lower. NV Energy recommends setting the thermostat at 68 degrees when you are home and lowering it to 58 degrees overnight or when you’re away from home.

“A single degree above 68 degrees can increase your energy bill by as much as 2 percent,” Piekarz said.

“The type of thermostat you have makes a difference as well. If you have an older manually-operated thermostat, replace it with a digital, programmable thermostat that can be programmed to automatically adjust the settings so you won’t need to remember to do it or experience unnecessary run times,” added Piekarz.

NV Energy recommends changing furnace filters monthly during the heating season and getting your furnace professionally tuned up every one or two years to keep it running efficiently.

Piekarz also cautions customers about the use of electric space heaters. “The use of space heaters constitutes more than 80% of high bill issues from customers during the winter,” he shared.

The new digital electric meters installed by NV Energy and the MyAccount feature on the company’s website, www.nvenergy.com, help customers keep better track of exactly how much energy they are using and when they’re using it.

Tools on the website enable you to conduct online home energy audits and to get specific recommendations for reducing energy costs based on your home’s characteristics. On the site, you can track your actual daily and average energy usage; compare your usage to other homes and compare your month-to-month energy consumption. In addition, you can sign up for voice, email or text alerts with your cost-to-date for service, payment notices and bill reminders, and ask to be notified when your power usage or costs exceed an amount set by you.

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