Georgia Power urges customers to conserve energy this winter

With the arrival of fall in Georgia, it is time to prepare for the winter weather that will follow. Now is a good time to prepare your house for the winter by taking the time to clean or replace filters, caulk or weather strip and check insulation. Georgia Power encourages people to follow some simple energy conservation tips to reduce winter electricity bills.

Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans so that the blades push the warm air down into the room. Fans should turn clockwise in the summer and counter-clockwise in the winter.

If you have a window air conditioning unit, remove it for the winter months to prevent heat from escaping through and around the unit. If it can’t be moved, put a cover over it to prevent drafts.

Check heating system filters at least monthly and clean or change them as needed. Dirty filters can increase operating costs significantly, can damage equipment and reduce efficiency.

Caulk and seal cracks or crevices wherever two different building materials meet.

Weatherstrip around all doors and windows, and between heated and unheated areas of your home - such as garages, basements, attics, etc.

Insulate your water heater with at least R-6 insulation. You can save enough money on energy bills to cover the cost of materials in just a few months, and then just keep on saving.

Drain a bucket of water out of the bottom of the water heater tank and clear any sedimentation. This will allow the heater to operate more efficiently.

Add insulated or storm windows and doors to reduce unwanted heat loss.

Check the R-value of insulation in your home. For existing homes, Georgia Power recommends R-30 in the ceiling, R-13 in the walls and R-11 in the floor for maximum comfort and energy efficiency. R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow.

Keep the thermostat on your heating system at the lowest comfortable setting. Georgia Power recommends 68 degrees Fahrenheit, because you add 3 percent to the amount of energy needed for every degree above 68.

If you are going away for several days, lower the thermostat to 60 degrees but not to off. By setting the thermostat at 60, there will put less strain on your heating system to reheat the house and having some heat in the house will prevent damages from outside freezing temperatures such as frozen or burst water pipes.

Be sure that heating registers and vents are not blocked by draperies or furniture. The vents should also be cleaned regularly with a vacuum or broom.

On sunny days, open drapes or blinds to allow natural solar heat to warm the house. Keep drapes and blinds closed on cloudy days and at night. Use insulated or heavy curtains on windows facing the north side of the house.

Make sure fireplace dampers fit tightly, and keep them closed when not using the fireplace. Add a glass fireplace screen if possible.

Close heating vents to unused rooms and close the door, separating the room from the rest of the house.

Cover bare floors. Carpeting adds to comfort and heat retention, especially if there is little or no floor insulation.

Use a humidifier to keep your home more comfortable. It allows you to reduce the thermostat setting without feeling chilled.