Preparing your home for winter
• Make sure your attic has a minimum of 6 inches of insulation — and 10 to 12 inches is preferable.
• Consider replacing older windows that allow air drafts.
• Install weather-stripping along cracks at windows and doors and water-flow restrictors and aerators for showerheads and faucets.
• Clean your furnace filter, and prior to heating season have a professional check your furnace.
• Energy Star recommends setting your thermostat to 70 degrees regularly but down at least eight degrees during the day if no one is home and overnight while sleeping.
Source: Black Hills Energy and Energy Star
With the wholesale price of natural gas about 70 percent lower than its peak in July 2008, Lawrence residents likely will see a huge relief in their heating bill this winter.
“We purchased gas for this winter in about May, and prices have been going down,” Curt Floerchinger, a Black Hills Energy spokesman, said Monday. “In fact, they reached a seven-year low recently, and we’ve been purchasing all along since May at those lower prices.”
He said storage levels of gas are at an all-time high, mainly because the recession has reduced natural gas demand. And recent discoveries of shale gas have helped boost supply.
“The savings could be significant if prices remain low,” said Ivan Vancas, the Black Hills vice president of operations for Kansas and Colorado natural gas operations.
Despite a prediction of lower heating costs, social service agencies are preparing to help area residents pay bills because of the effect of the recession and the high unemployment rate.
“I’m sure that more people will have need because the economy is different,” said Vicki Penner, president of Warm Hearts of Douglas County Inc., which provides heating bill assistance beginning Jan. 1 to qualifying families.
Warm Hearts helped 430 families last year, 454 families in 2008 and 357 families in 2007, said Linda Lassen, program director for Penn House.
Floerchinger said the company has seen about the same number of people needing assistance on their bills, but he said if families run into trouble it’s better for them to contact the company before their bill comes due to explore payment options.