December 20, 2009
SAVING ON HEATING COSTS THIS WINTER BARELY COSTS A DIME: HOW FAMILIES CAN SAVE MONEY WITH A FEW SIMPLE TIPS
DENVER – December 2009 – During the holiday season, many families face the added expense of presents, festivities and a noticeable increase in their monthly heating bill. While the holiday season is to be enjoyed, rising bills are never fun and can be avoided with some smart changes. Whether a family lives in a house or apartment, just a few minor alterations can increase energy efficiency and significantly lower energy bills. For example, according to Energy Outreach Colorado, a family can save three percent on their energy bill by turning their thermostat down just one degree. This winter, Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) would like families to know that they have the power to lower their home heating bills.
LEAP is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay winter home heating costs. The program pays the highest benefits to those with the highest heating bills and lowest incomes by family size. Applicant income cannot exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty index, which equals a maximum income of $3,400.00 per month before taxes for a household of four people.
“Many people think that to lower their heating bills, they will have to significantly change their lifestyle,” said Todd Jorgensen, director of LEAP. “Instead, if a family makes a few minor changes to their daily habits and is conscious of energy efficiency, they will save a significant amount of money each month.
According to Energy Outreach Colorado, the following are some no and low cost ways to save money on home heating bills this winter.
· Let the sun heat help heat your home. On average, Colorado has 360 days of sunshine, so on sunny winter days, make sure to open blinds, drapes or curtains to let the sun help heat your home. Close them at night to keep the warm air in and cool air out.
· Adjust the temperature on your hot water heater. Water heating typically accounts for 14 percent of your energy bill. Try to keep the temperature at 120 degrees or lower.
· Reduce your use of appliances. Lighting, cooking and using other appliances account for about 30 percent of a home’s heating bill. Turn off lights as you leave rooms, microwave foods rather than using the over and wash only full dishwasher loads.
· Seal leaks and cracks, especially around windows and doors. Poorly sealed homes allow conditioned air to escape through the gaps. Caulking and weather-stripping reduce uncomfortable drafts and high utility bills. Cost $10- $25.
· Replace light bulbs with newer compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLS). By replacing just 25 percent of your lights in high-use areas with compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), you can cut your lighting costs in half. Cost: $5-$14 per bulb.
· Check your furnace filter often – replace or clean it as needed, but at least once every two months during the heating season. A dirty furnace filter makes your furnace work harder to push air through it and raises your energy bill. Cost $10-$30.
· Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat will help save money and keep your home comfortable by automatically adjusting your temperature settings, saving you about $100 per year. Look for the Energy Star logo. Cost $20–$40.
Sometimes, these minor changes to a home’s energy efficiency are not enough, and costly repairs are needed to properly keep a family warm. When this is the case, LEAP eligible households may also qualify for the Crisis Invention Program [CIP] and the Governor’s Energy Office’s Weatherization Program. The CIP operates year-round and provides assistance with a home’s primary heating source such as a furnace or wood-burning stove. The Weatherization Program improves the energy efficiency in homes throughout Colorado, permanently reducing heating costs.
LEAP is currently accepting applications and will continue to do so until April 30, 2010. To qualify for LEAP, applicants must be responsible for paying heating costs directly to an energy provider, fuel dealer or as part of rent; be a permanent legal resident of the United States and Colorado or have household members that are U.S. citizens.
For more information about LEAP, please call 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap to view the most current program application requirements.