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Reduce your heating bill

Take action and make a change and slash that heating bill. Following are just a few of the many ways that you can reduce your heating bill: install a new high-efficiency furnace system; install fixed zoned heating; caulk, weatherstrip, foam seal and insulate at electric receptacles, windows, doors, siding, below floor areas and in the attic; and portable zone heating.

Regardless of which of these you choose, be sure to install a digital programmable thermostat. Set it so that the heat shuts off when you aren't home. If you live in a part of the country where it gets really cold, have your thermostat automatically drop to 55 or 60 degrees when you aren't home. You can set the programmable thermostat to raise the temperature just before you return home from a day at work; automatically lower the temperature at bedtime and turn the heat on just before getting up in the morning.

>High-efficiency furnace

A high-efficiency furnace uses less energy because it wastes less fuel than those of yesteryear. Additionally, high-efficiency furnaces can be accessorized to operate on two flame levels: 1) high flame, and 2) low flame. When a room comes up to temperature the furnace flame is reduced to the point where it maintains the temperature for a lower cost. A variable speed fan motor automatically reduces speed once things are warmed up so that the temperature is maintained using less electricity. Dual flame burners and variable speed blower motors are not a part of every high-efficiency furnace. Installing a high-efficiency furnace is a smart move. If you can afford it, get one that uses a dual flame burner and a variable speed blower motor. Here's a website that is very informative: http://www.lennox.com/

>Zoned heating

Whether your furnace is modern or an older, less efficient model, zoned heating will increase the heating efficiency in your home. Zoned heating is achieved through the use of dampers placed in the ducting of a central heating system. This allows you to control which rooms are heated and when. With zoned heating you can direct heat to only the bedrooms or only the living area or both. A home can have two, three, four or more zones. Installation costs increase in direct relationship to the number of zones. Truth is, most of us stay in only 20 percent of our home 80 percent of the time, so zoned heating does make great sense. You "techno types" will love this site: http://inspectapedia.com/heat/ZoneDampers.htm

>Caulking

We couldn't write about heating without mentioning the importance of rendering your home weathertight. Bone up on what it takes to keep air from passing through walls, doors, windows, ceilings and floors. Insulation and the control of air infiltration can completely change your level of comfort and your heating bill regardless of the type of furnace -- zoned or not. Study this website for an inside look at caulking products: http://www.caulkyourhome.com/index.php .

>Portable zoned heating

Space heaters are another outdated technology. Old fashioned space heaters are dangerous and children can be easily burned. Home fires can result as well. Space heaters should be called "spot heaters" because they generate a hot spot in a room while other parts of the same room remain freezing cold. The new breed of portable zoned heaters is unbelievable. First, they provide even heat throughout an area -- no hot spots. And foremost, they don't start fires. Portable zoned heaters are safer. Better zoned heaters use infrared heating technology that warms water molecules in the air (rather than removing them from the air) providing a softer, more even and comfortable heat. If you want to turn off the furnace in your home, and heat a space, a zone heater is by far the least expensive alternative that's safe. Go to: www.sun- heat.com/sunheat.com/howitworkstab.html to see how an infrared zone heater works.

James Carey and Morris Carey are nationally recognized experts on home building and renovation.

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