Be Prepared For Higher Heating Bills

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

October 4, 2005

Beware of your heating bills this winter. Thanks to the hurricane season, the prices of heating oil and natural gas are rising faster than the cost of gasoline. Heating oil prices in Charlottesville are up 35% and natural gas prices have doubled since last year.

There are some ways to keep your heating costs down, as well as a few things you can do now before old man winter moves in.

On Dice Street in Charlottesville residents are bracing for an expensive winter.

"We going to have a hard winter and I know my heating bill is going to be going high," said Francis Carter of Charlottesville.

Last winter, it cost this retired grandmother more than $200 dollars a month to keep warm. This year she's expected to pay a whole lot more.

So if it rises to $350 what's going to happen? "Maybe it gets cut off. I can't pay it," said Carter.

Albemarle Heating and Air says there are ways Francis and you can save on heating costs and keep old man winter out in the cold where he belongs.

"You want to make sure the house is well insulated and you want to look for any places where air can come in," said Ralph Sachs of Albemarle Heating & Air.

Check all windows and doors for air leaks and "tighten up your weather stripping" around the doors, Sachs explained.

Remove window air conditioners and seal around wall units. Check cellars and attics for air leaks.

"Get some ventilation. Put that on top of the [attic door], on the inside, and again, weather strip this," continued Sachs.

Also have your furnace system checked out.

Leaks in the ducks can put a tremendous burden on your furnace. "That has a huge impact because none of the duct work is sealed," he said after looking at Carter's home. The average duct leakage is 25 to 30 percent.

"If I asked you [about] your plumbing pipes, how much leakage would you accept in your water pipes, what would you say? None," said Sachs. Heating and Air systems should be no different.

The bottom line is you want to make sure all the heat your generating is staying inside the house because if you're wasting heat, you're wasting money.

"If you spend a dollar on gas, and 25% or 40% of it is going someplace can lose $0.25-0.40 on [every dollar you spend on heat]," said Sachs.

If you're on a fixed income and think you may need help with your heating bills this winter call the city's gas division and ask about the gas assistance program, that number is 434-970-3222.

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