Tips for reducing your electric bill

For Chicago residents, the arrival of winter means a drop in temperatures and, for those with electric-powered heating, an increase in electric bills. Did you know you can lower your heating costs by performing a quick assessment of your home and making some simple adjustments?

Investing some time and money to weatherize your home before the cold weather arrives can make your heating system run more efficiently, and save you money in the future.

Five tips for reducing your electric bill:

1. Check all exterior doors and windows to make sure they’re sealed properly. If they let in a draft and need to be weatherized, you can use items like window film, weather-stripping or a foam sealant, depending on the location. Replacing your drafty doors and windows with storm doors and windows is another option for keeping cold air out.

2. Seal and insulate your home’s air ducts, where an estimated 20 percent of your heat can be lost. Using metal tape or mastic duct sealant, repair the areas that you can access easily, such as the garage, basement or attic. Otherwise, consult a professional contractor for assistance with repairing ducts that are harder to reach.

3. Install additional insulation in the attic, basement and crawlspace. There are several types, including fiberglass and spray foam. Home improvement stores can provide advice for do-it-yourself projects, most of which require only a day or two of work.

4. Check the air filters in your furnace every month, and change them at least every three months during the year to avoid wasting energy. Excessive dirt and dust buildup clogs the filters and prevents them from working efficiently.

5. Install a programmable thermostat. There’s no need to heat your entire house while you’re away. You can keep the temperature lower when no one’s home and set the thermostat to turn on the heat just before you arrive.

If you have more questions about reducing your electric bill, consulting a licensed electrician is recommended. Angie’s List has consumer reviews on more than 500 highly rated electricians in the Chicago area.

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