Jean Ince | County Extension Agent Staff Chair
It sure is cold outside!
The weatherman has been saying that it won’t get warm anytime soon. Winter has a double bite – as the temperature goes down, heating costs rise. There are several things you can do to help reduce your home heating bill during the coldest months of the year.
One of the easiest ways to save money on home heating costs is by setting the thermostat a little lower than normal – about 68 degrees during winter. Setting the thermostat comfortably low and dressing warmly can have similar effect without turning up the thermostat. If you find the house is a little too cool, try putting on a sweater.
If you did not have a home heating inspection done at the beginning of the season, it is not too late to still get one. By having regular checks and maintenance, you can be assured that your unit is working properly. Check and replace the dust filters inside the home once a month and have a technician clean and check the home heating system every year. A system that does not perform properly can cost you extra money.
It may also help to install a programmable thermostat. This system uses pre-set times to heat or cool a room to the desired temperature. Most systems can hold six or more settings and can be manually overridden without changing any daily schedules.
While at work or on an extended trip away from home, try setting the thermostat down about 10 to 15 degrees. If you turn the thermostat back for at least eight hours a day, you can save approximately 10 percent on your heating bill.
On sunny days, open the curtains and let the sun shine in! Natural sunlight will help to warm a room, making your heater work less.
It’s a common misconception that a home heating system works harder to bring a room to the desired temperature after it’s been set back. The U.S. Department of Engy has disproven this myth with years of research and numerous studies.
Make sure the home is properly insulated to ensure that as little heat as possible is lost through the ceiling and walls. Seal gaps around pipes, duct work, and chimneys. If you feel cold air coming in, find out where and try to plug the hole.
Most houses have sufficient insulation installed when the house was built. Older homes, however, may not have been held to the same standard. If you have an older home, have an inspector check the insulation to determine if it is meeting the standards.
For more information about saving money, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit the U of A Division of Agriculture’s website at www.uaex.edu and click on Family & Consumer Sciences.
Recipe of the Week
Here is a recipe that is great for cold winter nights and it is easy on the budget. The recipe serves 6 and costs approximately $1.02 per serving.
Baked Chicken with Vegetables
4 sliced potatoes
6 sliced carrots
1 large quartered onion
1 raw chicken – cleaned and cut into pieces, skin removed
½ cup water
1 teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes, carrots and onions in a large roasting pan. Put chicken pieces on top of the vegetables.
Mix water, thyme and pepper. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Spoon juices over chicken once or twice during cooking. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour or more until browned and tender.
Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories, 3.5 g. fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 135 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 26 g protein. This recipe is also high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron and is a good source of Calcium.