Winter is coming: 4 tips to save on home heating bills

Say it ain’t snow! Temperatures in the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys are dropping into the 40’s this week, a sure sign that the colder months are here.

Last winter marked one of the coldest seasons in Youngstown history, as temperatures reached as low as minus-16 degrees. That meant a lot of freezing house calls for technicians at Clayton Heating.

“When we get below 0 degrees, our furnaces aren’t going to maintain temperature like they’re used to seeing,” said Gene Clayton, president of Clayton Heating & Air Conditioning. “We don’t size our equipment for one week out of our whole year.”

Clayton recommends homeowners schedule a technician to perform routine maintenance on your furnace, noting it’s a lot less expensive than paying for a $500 emergency house call on a cold winter night.

Before winter starts, check to see how old your furnace is. Switching to something new could be worth it.

“The higher-efficiency furnaces, compared to the old natural draft furnaces, there’s a 40- to 50-percent savings,” Clayton said. “So anybody that would replace their furnace from a natural draft, 30-year-old furnace to today’s furnace, there’s a big savings.”

The U.S. Department of Energy’s “Energy Saver” site offers other tips for saving on home heating bills this winter. Among them:

  1. Purchase a programmable thermostat, which can lower the temperature when you’re sleeping to conserve heat
  2. Clean out the filters on your furnace once a month
  3. Open the drapes and shades on south-facing windows during the day, which lets more sun and heat inside
  4. Remove objects that may be blocking sunlight on heat-absorbing walls or concrete slab floors

The Energy Saver site says heating and cooling costs make up nearly half of a home’s utility bill.

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