As your state representative, I'd like to pass along some information on how you can reduce your heating costs in the coming winter months. As temperatures begin to drop, these simple measures can produce big energy savings.
• Thermostat. Set your thermostat for heating at 68 degrees or lower during the day. Proper thermostat settings can help you conserve up to 20 percent of your energy costs. (Thermostats for heat pumps can be lowered to 63 degrees at night or adjusted by no more than 5 degrees.)
• Fireplace. Close the flue to your fireplace when not in use to prevent heat in your home from escaping.
• Curtains and shades. On days where sunlight is available, open your curtains and shades on eastern and southern windows during the day to allow the sun to help heat up your home. Close them at night.
• Filters. Change or clean filters once a month or as required to keep the furnace running efficiently.
• Ceiling fans. Switch the setting on ceiling fans to run counter-clockwise to help push warm air back down. Turn fans off when not in the room.
• Windows and doors. Caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors to prevent drafts.
• Water heater and pipes. Insulate electric water heaters and hot water pipes to avoid wasting energy.
• Ducts. Energy and heat loss often occurs due to leaking ducts. Sealing or repairing leaking ducts is a cost-effective measure that produces immediate savings.
• Attic insulation. The average 20-year-old home has only three to four inches of attic insulation. Austin Energy recommends 12 to 13 inches or R-38. Adding attic insulation is a cost-effective measure that can help retain heat in your home. Make sure the duct work is sealed prior to investing in insulation.
• Whole House. Austin Energy is offering a $200 incentive on top of its regular rebates through December 31, 2011 when customers make all the recommended energy-efficiency improvements, including a new air conditioning and heating system. When combined with Texas Gas Service incentives, the rebates can total on average more than $2,000 when all the improvements are made.
Visit www.austinenergy.com for more energy-efficiency tips and information about available rebates and low-interest loans to help make improvements.
Representative Workman is the current state representative for House District 47.