Focus on Energy: Taking the Sting Out of High Heating Costs

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What Wisconsin Homeowners Can Do to Save Money This Winter

MADISON, Wis. (September 12, 2005) – Wisconsin homeowners will see their heating bills rise again this winter, as energy costs are expected to increase as much as 20 percent, according to Focus on Energy. Although this cost increase will strain Wisconsin families’ budgets, there are steps homeowners can take to make their homes more efficient and less susceptible to high heating costs.

This is the fourth consecutive year that energy costs have risen by double-digit percentages, said Gregg Newman, Focus on Energy’s program manager for the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program. “The best way to get relief from high heating costs is to look for ways to save energy and make your home more efficient,” said Newman.

Newman explained that “there are things homeowners can do right away, without much cost or effort, to lessen the energy used to heat their home.” Here are some easy fixes homeowners can make:

1. Buy an ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat. Inexpensive and easy to install, programmable thermostats automatically turn the heat down during weekdays and at night, so homeowners aren’t paying to heat the home when no one is there.

2. Change the ceiling fan direction. Ceiling fans are useful all year round. With their direction reversed in winter, they create a gentle updraft that moves warm air from the ceiling and distributes it evenly throughout the room. However, be sure to turn the fan off when you leave the room.

3. Maintain the heating system. To keep the furnace running at peak efficiency, it is important to keep it maintained. That means scheduling yearly maintenance and regularly changing the filter.

4. Seal ductwork. Leaky ducts decrease the furnace’s ability to deliver heat to where it is needed. By sealing ducts with duct tape, homeowners ensure the heat goes where it is supposed to go.

5. Turn down the heat. By turning thermostats down one or two degrees, homeowners can reduce the amount of energy used and save money.

Finally, Newman recommends that homeowners schedule a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR evaluation. This comprehensive evaluation consists of an inspection of all systems in the home including the building shell, heating and cooling equipment, air infiltration and insulation levels. Once the evaluation is complete, homeowners receive a report that identifies problems and recommends solutions.

To find a consultant or qualified contractor partnering with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program near them, homeowners can visit focusonenergy.com or call 800.762.7077. Every qualified contractor and consultant listed on the Focus on Energy Web site has been trained by Focus on Energy and has agreed to uphold the standards set for Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. Each qualified contractor and consultant operates independently, running their own business and setting their own fees. Focus on Energy recommends calling more than one consultant to compare prices.

About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is a public-private partnership offering energy information and services to energy utility customers throughout Wisconsin. The goals of this program are to encourage energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, enhance the environment and ensure the future supply of energy for Wisconsin. Since July 2001, the program has helped Wisconsin’s businesses and residents cut their utility bills by more than $54 million – reducing their energy consumption by more than 725 million kilowatt-hours and more than 35 million therms of natural gas. For more information, call 800.762.7077 or visit focusonenergy.com.

About ENERGY STAR
ENERGY STAR was introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 as a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce air pollution through increased energy efficiency. Today, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy, the ENERGY STAR program offers businesses and consumers energy efficient solutions to save energy, money and help protect the environment for future generations. More than 8,000 organizations have become ENERGY STAR partners and are committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes and businesses.