Keeping the winter chill outside


Staff writer

Winter’s grip has a hold of the temperature outside, but simple steps can be taken to keep the warmth inside.

“Typically, in our region, January is the coldest month of the year,” said Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken. “The temperature fluctuates depending on the year, but the National Weather Service declares January as the coldest.”

On both the Web site and in customer bill inserts, PSE suggests now is a good time to take some no- and low-cost steps to prepare homes to save energy and money.

“As the daylight hours grow shorter, most households use more electricity in the winter than in the summer, and their natural gas consumption goes up when furnaces kick on to warm homes,” said PSE Senior Vice President of Customer Service and Information Technology Darren Brady in a news release. “We encourage our customers this time of year to take a few easy steps to save energy and money.”

Brady added that it’s a good idea to properly insulate attics, outside walls and floors over crawl spaces to keep in the heat. Replacing an old furnace or worn-out appliance with a new high-efficiency model also will help reduce costs.

One of the quickest ways to make a difference in heating bills is lowering the thermostat a few degrees during the night or when gone for the day. Brady said setting the thermostat to 58 degrees during the hours while home occupants are sleeping can decrease a natural gas bill by up to 7 percent. This task can be made easier with a programmable thermostat, set to re-warm the house shortly before its occupants wake up or return home from work.

Additional energy-saving tips Brady suggested include:

• Caulk around windows and seal other air leaks, as well as replace old and cracked caulking.

• Add weather stripping around and under drafty doors.

• Seal between the foundation and siding, wherever brick and wood meet.

• Insulate, proper insulation can make the biggest difference in keeping a house warm.

• Clean or replace furnace filters regularly during the heating season.

• Keep your house at the lowest comfortable temperature. Brady said a rule of thumb is for each degree the thermostat is consistently lowered, heating costs can be reduced by 2 percent.

• Use a programmable thermostat so the home is warm when people are home and awake, but cool when occupants are gone or sleeping.

• Look at energy-efficient ratings when replacing appliances to ensure long-term savings on energy.

With winter just around the corner, Brady added now is the time to prepare the home for cold weather snaps. For more information on making the home more energy-efficient, call PSE at (888) 225-5773 or visit the Web site at

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