Tips to save money on your heating bill

Both CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy are urging customers to make some changes in order to avoid higher heating bills. MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — With record-cold temperatures settling across the country, energy companies are urging customers to be proactive. Xcel Energy said an increase in wholesale natural gas prices might last a couple of days as production of and demand for natural gas goes up. The wholesale cost is passed on directly to customers. Meanwhile, CenterPoint Energy buys, reserves and stores a “substantial portion” of its natural gas supply ahead of winter but more purchases are needed to meet increased customer demand during cold weather. CenterPoint Energy said the price they pay in the market for natural gas is the same price charged to customers. To avoid a higher heating bill, Xcel Energy has some tips: One of the biggest ways to conserve energy is lowering your thermostat if you have a natural gas furnace or boiler. Xcel Energy recommends setting the thermostat to 65-70 degrees while at home and 58 degrees while away. “Also having a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature based on your routine and then lets you conserve energy when you’re sleeping or away,” said Trisha Duncan, Xcel Energy’s director of Minnesota community relations. Meanwhile, CenterPoint Energy is urging its customers to reduce their thermostat settings to 65 degrees during the day when at home and five degrees lower when asleep or away from the home. CenterPoint is asking for customers to make the change at least through Christmas. Lower your water heater’s temperature or insulate it According to Xcel Energy, the proper temperature for a water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Lowering it by 10 degrees can save someone 3-5% on water heating costs. Don’t let the heat escape during the day, open your blinds and curtains to allow the sunlight’s warmth in. During the night, close them to help with insulation. Make sure exterior doors are closed. A major source of heat loss is from exterior doors that are left cracked open or not latched. Also check for drafts around the home. Window sealing kits can help with drafty windows and damp fireplaces should be closed when not in use. Keep oven doors closed while cooking. Each time the door is opened, even if just for a few seconds, the temperature drops 25 degrees. Finally, improving insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce your bill. Xcel Energy said it can help you save up to 10% on your monthly energy bill. Other tips include running ceiling fans clockwise to force warm air down, as well as keeping furnace filters clean. A dirty filter requires a furnace to work harder. Changing the filter once a month during the winter can reduce heating costs by 5-15%, according to Xcel Energy. “If you’re having trouble paying your energy bill, please reach out to us. We have programs in place, we have energy assistance options. Give us a call and we’re happy to work with you,” Duncan said. Customers can learn more by visiting here or by calling 1-800-895-4999. CenterPoint Energy also has payment assistance information, here. A reminder that if you smell a “rotten egg” odor inside or near your home, it could be a gas leak. Don’t do anything that could cause a spark including turning electrical devices on or off, using a garage door opener, starting a car near the location or using your phone. Leave your home immediately and contact your gas company and 911 once you are a safe distance away. Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist:

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