So it's finally cold. And that means your heating bill is about to spike, but let's keep it down as much as we can by winterizing the house. For starters, here's something many of us don't know about - if you are a Georgia Power customer, you can have someone come out to your house free of charge to do an energy audit. They will tell you exactly where you are losing money. Let's start at the front door.
"You can see a visible gap between the door and the door jamb," Dean Jurecic, a Georgia Power energy efficiency analyst, pointed out.
You can feel the cold air coming through and that's the feeling of losing money. This is an easy fix. Remove the current weather stripping. Now take a picture of that gap. Show it to the folks at the hardware store. Your house may have settled. You might need a bigger sized strip than the one that's currently in the door.
Now let's think a minute about Christmas. Next Christmas. Take stock of your inventory now. It's a good time to upgrade your holiday lights since they're on sale right.
Our energy analyst said if you have bulbs that are out or perhaps damaged sockets, it's time to upgrade.
"It's time to change them out. You can get LEDs which get the same look but use 50 percent less energy. And last 10 times as long."
And get this, the new LED lights, well, they don't get as hot as the old bulbs either which means you can use them in more places. You also want to make sure those outdoor lights are still in good shape. Look for fraying. And make sure you're using the right extension cord.
"You want to make sure you have an extension cord rated for outdoor use."
Since we're putting decorations back up in the attic, let's look to see if we're losing energy and money up here. We find insulation in one spot is eight inches thick and that's OK, but it's not consistent throughout. In another location it's too low.
Here's another chance to check out Georgia Power's 'how to' video which will also show you how to look for heat-losing gaps in insulation.
Dean Jurecic told us why this is so important.
"So in the summer, there's 150 degree air that's up here getting into your house right through that gap there because there's no insulation."
Take that one gap and multiply is by as many gaps as you can see, and you have a problem. If you insulate it properly, you can receive up to $300 in rebates from Georgia Power.
And finally, the nerve center - your thermostat. Turn down the heat when you're not at home, but not too much.
"We recommend three to five degrees as a temperature to turn it down so that way it won't take too long to heat back up when you get home," said Dean Jurecic.
Get a programmable thermostat and get up to a $100 rebate here, too. Once it's in, you can set it to a daytime temp and a night time temp. If you don't really know how to use it, grab the serial number on it and call the manufacturer or get the manual. If you do, here's the kind of savings you can look forward to. One thermostat brand claims 10-12 percent savings on heating bills, 15 percent on cooling bills.
And finally, one more place to save money any season are light bulbs: old-fashioned incandescent light versus the newer CFL bulb. The CFL, says Georgia Power, can save you 75 percent. And, it can last up to seven years. If it sounds like a big expense all at once to change these out, put the still working old bulbs in lights you rarely use like a guest bedroom. That light that's always on, say in a entry way lamp, put the CFL light there.