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Help Available to Keep the "Home Fires" Burning in CO this Winter

November 17, 2008

When the winter weather outside turns frightful, home heating bills can be even scarier. With higher utility bills expected in the coming months, experts say there are a number of free, or low-cost, fixes that Colorado families can do around the house to improve energy efficiency.

Scott Morgan from Home and Garden Television says start by simply lowering the thermostat on your water heater.

"Typically they're at about 120 degrees, and just by lowering it to 115 degrees will save 10 to 20 percent. That's significant"

You can also use a candle flame to find leaks around doors and windows, says Morgan. If the flame flickers, you might have a leak on the exterior of your house. Inexpensive materials like silicone and caulk can be used to plug leaks and save money. Morgan adds it's important to make sure the heat inside your house stays there.

"If you go out and play in the winter time or you send your kids out, you always say 'put on a hat and a warm jacket.' We need to do the same thing for our homes and what that means is insulation."

Homeowners may consider upgrading from the old fiberglass batting to special insulating boards that can be taped around the edges to create a tighter seal with fewer leaks.

When do-it-yourself fixes don't go far enough, Peggy Hofstra, with Energy Outreach Colorado, says a variety of agencies in the state offer help to low-income families to pay heating bills, weatherize, or even replace an old furnace, in some cases. And new legislation recently signed by President Bush has nearly doubled the funds available for the LEAP program that helps with utility bills.

"The LEAP program will be increasing the amount of money it provides per household, so it's definitely worth the time to look into that."

More information on energy assistance is available by calling 1-866-HEAT-HELP.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO