The bitter cold is moving into Central Texas.

That means many of us will turn the heater up to stay warm.

While you are staying cozy and warm from the artic cold front, there are some energy saving tips you can apply to save some money on your next utility bill.

Heating and air conditioning can account for more than 50% of a home’s energy usage, according to Entergy Texas.

They say setting the thermostat to 68 degrees during the winter months is an easy way to reduce your energy usage. Every degree above 68 degrees can increase your bill by about 3%. So, if you turn it up to 78 degrees, for example, you could add 30% to your bill.

Try these low-cost tips from Entergy to keep your bill down, while still staying warm:

  • Seal air leaks. Install weather stripping around your doors, windows and any location where there may be a path between the inside and outside of your home or business.
  • Conserve hot water. Wrap your electric water heater with a water heater blanket that can be found at local home improvement stores and set the thermostat to 120 degrees or medium.
  • Keep all doors and windows closed. Constantly opening doors and windows will let out the warm air, forcing your heater to work harder to keep the room at the set temperature.
  • Ensure fans are turning the right way. Fans should be run at a low speed clockwise during the winter. This helps keep the cold air from blowing down on you.
  • Keep the air circulating. Do not block heat registers or air returns with curtains or furniture.
  • Leverage the sun. During the day, open your curtains and blinds to let in the warm sunlight. Close them at night to reduce heat loss.

If you're having a hard time to pay your utility bill, due to the pandemic or the arctic blast, many providers have flexible payment arrangements.

Also, don't forget to look out for your pipes by dripping your indoor faucets (especially at night) and leaving cabinets open (if safe to do so with no small, curious children in your home) so that warmer air can circulate around the pipes under your sinks. Wrap up outdoor faucets with a thick rag or foam insulators.

While you're doing all that, also make sure you take care of any outdoor pets you have. If it's too cold out there for you, it's also too cold for them. Don't just assume your pets have ways of finding shelter and warmth on their own. They depend on you.

My coworker Toni Gee has some great tips for taking care of your pets during the cold weather here. Be sure to check out her article for ways you can make sure your four-legged friend is safe and happy.

Stay warm, Central Texas!

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