Hometown Lawrence: Simple steps can reduce the cost of keeping your house warm

Getting your heating system serviced every year by a professional will extend the life of your system and make sure it is operating at peak efficiency.

As the temperature drops outside, the cost of heating the inside can put a huge dent in the monthly budget. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average household spends approximately $2,200 on energy costs, with half going toward heating and cooling. Fortunately, there are ways to keep costs down while you heat up.

Start by installing a digital thermostat. This simple gizmo can automatically change a home’s temperature while the occupants are away or asleep for optimum energy efficiency. For every degree a thermostat is set back during an eight hour period, the energy savings equals up to one percent. Set the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for the eight hours and the savings can reach 15 percent. The EPA recommends you start with a temperature of 68 to 70 degrees and then program the thermostat to set the temp back by at least 8 degrees both during the day and at night.

Next, get your heating system serviced every year by a professional. This will extend the life of your system and make sure it is operating at peak efficiency. Also, set up a schedule to make regular filter changes throughout the season. A dirty filter restricts airflow, which makes the system work harder.

Another step is to replace worn-out weather stripping around doors and windows. Plus, if you can see light underneath your door, it is time to adjust the height of the threshold by turning the screws to lift it until most of the daylight is gone. Just be sure not to raise it too high so it interferes with how the door opens and closes.

Also, cover windows and patio doors, either with heavy insulated curtains, or better still, with a transparent film available at home improvement centers and hardware stores. Follow the directions and the film will hardly block your view.

Make a trip up to your attic to be sure there is adequate insulation. The attic access door is a notorious spot for heat loss. Attach a piece of fiberglass insulation with adhesive to the back of the door.

Finally, seal the seams in the heating system’s ductwork that can be reached in the basement, attic, crawl space, or garage with metal (foil) tape or mastic sealant to keep the warm air from leaking out. Wrapping the ducts in insulation made for this purpose also helps keep the heat headed where it needs to go.

The EPA’s Energy Star website has lots of useful information and publication to help homeowners save energy and money. Check it out at www.energystar.gov.

Hometown Lawrence

Hometown Lawrence is the Lawrence Journal-World’s real estate resource section and website. For more information on area real estate listings, go to HometownLawrence.com.