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Marketplace: Stay Warm and Avoid a High Heating Bill

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Marketplace: Stay Warm and Avoid a High Heating Bill

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Marketplace: Stay Warm and Avoid a High Heating Bill

Marketplace: Stay Warm and Avoid a High Heating Bill

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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You can keep the heating bills under control this winter with a few low-tech, cost-cutting strategies: wearing socks and using the heat your house is already generating rather than cranking up the thermostat. Noah Adams gets tips from Marketplace's Steve Tripoli.


And back now with DAY TO DAY.

The winter temperature has finally come to most of the country. Good time to talk about ways in keep your heating bill down in the months ahead.

And MARKETPLACE's Steve Tripoli joins us with a few pointers.

Steve, your best advice would be what?

STEVE TRIPOLI: Well, I'll tell you, Noah, there are a lot things. And I really like this little list because this is the easy stuff. It doesn't take a lot of work. And if you add up a handful of small savings, it can add up. So, let's divide it into three categories. First thing, you can do differently yourself. Then, things you can do around the house. And then, easier things you can do to the house.

Let's start with a really simple one. Wear socks. Why? Because if your feet are cold, your whole body feels cold. The next thing you know you're cranking up the thermostat.

ADAMS: Now, what about sweaters? L.A. doesn't really fit in this discussion. But Madeleine has a brown sweater on and a scarf even, and I am wearing a gray sweater. What about you up there in Massachusetts where it is cold?

TRIPOLI: Well, you know, that's a good question for me because I have an almost perfect situation for it here. The home studio that I speak to you from is downstairs in my house. But most of the living areas are upstairs. And I have zoned thermostats for my oil heat.

So, I keep the downstairs four or five degrees cooler and just wear a sweater because why heat a whole floor when there's only one person occupying it. And it keeps me more alert while I'm working, too.

ADAMS: Got a hat on?

TRIPOLI: No hat.

ADAMS: Okay. What are some of the other things you can do inside your house then?

TRIPOLI: Well, the first thought is to capture more the heat that your daily activities generate. I mean you might want to cook more at home than you do in summer. Because cooking generates heat and that keeps the thermostat down. If you shower, open the bathroom door and let the steam spread through the house because moisture matters. You feel as warm when there's moisture in the air as you do in a dry house that's several degrees warmer.

And by the way, that's a good argument for humidifiers in winters, too. You know, you can also probably keep the heat a bit lower and the water heater as a much as 20 degrees lower than you would do - than you do now without noticing it.

The Department of Energy - The U.S. Department of Energy says most people are just fine with water heaters set to about 120 degrees. And most folks keep them up around 140 degrees.

ADAMS: And things you can do to, let's say, the outside of your house?

TRIPOLI: Well, the first thing is pretty standard but it bears repeating is that you should get an energy audit. And they're usually free from most power or heating companies. And those folks can show you easy ways to save like adding a little insulation in the most leaky spots.

But you should keep your furnace tuned up, too. It'll burn more efficiently, which means, the same amount of heat for less fuel. And here's one that I like. Programmable thermostats.

That's one I could use in my house. You know, we keep our bedrooms warm at night but the kitchen and living areas are cooler. And that, you know, with one of those, you can get the heat up and down without having to think about it.

By the way, Noah, let's close with a different twist about the house. Coming up later today on MARKETPLACE, we'll examine one of the year's big economic stories, the end of the housing boom and whether that boom might turn to bust.

ADAMS: Steve Tripoli reports for Public Radio's daily business program MARKETPLACE. And that is produced by American Public Media.

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