A furnace checkup is good start to saving energy
JANESVILLE Have you broken down and turned on your furnace yet?
It's natural to wait as long as possible in an effort to keep your winter heating costs down.
There are, however, other ways to spend less money and save energy starting with an annual furnace inspection.
"It will probably cost between $50 and $100, but it is important to make sure your furnace is running correctly and efficiently,'' said Steven Schultz, Alliant Energy communications program manager.
A checkup also will clean out dust or dirt, he said.
"Dust and dirt can clog vital parts, making your furnace run harder and eventually break down,'' Schultz said.
It's also the best prevention against deadly carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Alliant's monthly Natural Gas update newsletter.
To find an energy-smart heating contractor in your area, visit alliantenergy.com/ dealerlocator.
A home energy evaluation also can help consumers understand where their energy is going, Schultz said.
"It can show you where heat is escaping during the winter, for example, and will provide you with a blueprint for weatherizing your home," he said.
For details about how you can do a home energy audit, visit www.alliantenergy.com/utilityservices/foryourhome/easyenergysavers/014671, Schultz said.
Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide energy-efficiency and renewable energy initiative, also is a good source for energy and money-savings tips, Schultz said.
It is funded by all of the state's utilities and can be accessed by visiting www.focusonenergy.com or calling 1-800-762-7077, he said.
Alliant also offers information about ways to use less energy and these tips on how to make your home more energy efficient:
-- Set your thermostat between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter and 5 degrees lower when you sleep.
-- Install a programmable thermostat and set it to follow your schedule. If nobody is home during the day, there is no need to keep your house warm.
-- Have your ducts tested for air leakage. Leaking ducts can cut heating efficiency by up to 30 percent.
-- Insulate attics, floors and walls to current building codes. The higher the "R" value, the greater the insulation value. It is best to insulate attics first, followed by walls, and then floors above unheated crawl spaces.
-- Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 140 degrees Fahrenheit if you have a dishwasher.
-- Install efficient showerheads and faucets to save up to 50 percent on your water-heating costs.
-- Fix defective plumbing and dripping faucets.
-- Close the damper when the fireplace is not being used.
In addition, Cash-Back Rewards from Focus on Energy can help you save money on the cost of energy-efficiency improvements.
Select tax credits also are available when you buy qualified windows, skylights, insulation, exterior doors, furnaces, boilers and water heaters.