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Save energy, save moola

Temperatures are creeping down. It won’t be long before we’re considering powering up those furnaces again.

Before you do, though, schedule a checkup for your furnace—and your home—to prevent your energy dollars from disappearing. Every year, American homes lose $13 billion worth of energy, an average of $150 per family, according to Alliant Energy.

Alliant advises you to follow these tips for keeping your home (and pocketbook) happy during the cooler months ahead:

  1. Do a home energy audit. Many utility companies offer their customers this service.
  2. Inspect your furnace filter monthly. If it’s dirty, replace it. Dust and dirt can clog vital parts, making your furnace run harder and eventually break down.
  3. Have your heating system inspected regularly. A $50 to $100 annual tune-up can reduce heating costs by up to 5 percent.
  4. If you have a forced-air furnace, do NOT close off heat registers in unused rooms. Furnaces are designed to heat a specific square footage of space and can’t sense a register is closed – continuing to work at the same pace.
  5. If you set your thermostat back by 10 degrees for eight hours while you’re asleep or away, you could lower your heating bills by 10 percent.
  6. Vacuum registers and vents regularly, and don’t let furniture and draperies block the air flow. Plastic deflectors can direct air under tables and chairs.
  7. During the winter, keep curtains and blinds closed at night to keep cold air out. Open them during the day to let the sun warm the room.
  8. While on vacation during the winter, leave the thermostat at 55 degrees. This will save energy and still prevent water pipes from freezing.
  9. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned and inspected regularly, and burn only fully dried hardwoods to produce the most heat output.
  10. When using the fireplace, turn down the furnace to 55 degrees. If you don’t, warm air from the furnace will go up the chimney.