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Learn to use a programmable thermostat
Learn to use a programmable thermostat

Learn to use a Programmable Thermostat: Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish, especially if you live in an area with a risk of frozen water pipes. Completely turning off the heat, letting the temperature drop and then reheating your living space could actually be more expensive than lowering the temperature of your home, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Keep in mind that repairing burst water pipes and any resulting damage can easily cost thousands of dollars.  The bottom line? “You should not turn the heating system totally off if there’s a chance of freezing,” says Rodney Sobin, a senior policy manager for the ASE.  Solution: Invest in a programmable thermostat, which can be as cheap as $20 or $25 at big-box stores. During the winter, if you schedule your thermostat to drop to 68 degrees when you’re home and lower when you’re sleeping or away, you can save $110 per year or more, according to EPA estimates. If you choose to install the thermostat yourself, be sure to shut off the electricity in your house during installation.

 “Fireplaces are designed primarily as entertainment-oriented appliances. They are not designed for heating large areas,” says Ashley Eldridge, director of education for the Chimney Safety Institute of America, or CSIA. “While there are some modern fireplace designs that do heat, most of your heating will come from a central furnace.”  Solution: Decorate your mantle, but limit lighting a fire to the times when you want to add a cozy touch. “In most cases, using the heater is going to be a better choice from a thermal performance point of view, but fireplaces may be desired as an aesthetic choice,” says Max Sherman, a fellow at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE, and a staff senior scientist/group leader at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. To be on the safe side, have the chimney inspected once a year. A CSIA-certified chimney sweep might charge $100 to $300 for the inspection; the sweep itself may cost extra, says Eldridge of the CSIA. To avoid losing more heat through the chimney, remember to close the damper after the fire is completely out, Eldridge says.

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