Southwest Gas has ideas on ways homeowners can manage their utility bills in the winter heating season.
Weatherization and conservation "not only helps them use energy wisely, but helps them save their energy dollars as well," a release said.
The most important thing residential consumers can do before the heating season begins in earnest is to have heating appliances checked by a professional heating contractor. A checkup can prolong the life of the furnace and decrease energy usage, as well as ensure the heating appliance is operating safely.
Consumers without a heating contractor can call Southwest Gas energy specialists toll-free at 1-800-654-2765, or visit the Southwest Gas Web site, www.swgas.com, for the names of local contractors, who can inspect the furnace to assure that it's running efficiently and safely.
Turning down the thermostat can save about 2 percent on the heating bill for each degree the thermostat is lowered. Turning down the thermostat 10 degrees at night can save about 7 percent in heating costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Installing a programmable thermostat can automatically reduce the temperature setting at night, as well as when families are away from home.
Additional weatherization steps include caulking and weather-stripping around doors and windows to insulate against drafts; installation of low-flow showerheads and faucets; minimizing the use of exhaust fans; and waiting until dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers are full before operating in order to help save water and energy.
For more information, contact a Southwest Gas energy specialist at 1-800-OK-GAS-OK (1-800-654-2765), or log onto www.swgas.com.
Southwest Gas provides natural gas service to more than 1.7 million customers in parts of Arizona, California and Nevada.