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Prepare Houses For Cold Weather
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi home thermostats have some major adjustments ahead as the record high temperatures of summer are replaced by a nip in the air.
Dr. Frances Graham, housing specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said many Mississippians are not accustomed to cold weather and may be tempted to run heaters more than necessary. Cutting the thermostat down to 68 degrees, at least at night, can be the first step in reducing heating costs.
Graham suggested several other ways to keep heating bills at a minimum.
"Layer and wear more clothes inside and outside during the winter. That will make it much more comfortable when you adjust the thermostat to a cooler setting," Graham said. "Nighttime settings can be a few degrees lower. Just add blankets to the bed and sleep in heavier pajamas."
Most heat is lost through doors and windows. Teach family members not to leave doors open unnecessarily long. Add weatherstrips around doors, lock windows for tighter seals and inspect for caulking needs. Heavy gauge plastic can serve as a temporary storm window during the winter months.
"Drapes can provide additional insulation. They don't have to be heavy. Like with clothing, layers (blinds, sheers, curtains) can help keep cold out and heat in," Graham said. "Keep drapes closed for insulation on the north side of the house where sun will not be coming in during the day. Let the sun shine in on the south side during the day, then draw the curtains at night."
Graham said closing registers (air vents) in unused rooms will not reduce heating bills and can set up conditions for other problems. Poor ventilation will increase the chances for mold and mildew. Close doors to those rooms instead.
"Operate exhaust fans in moderation, just enough to vent the humidity, not the heat in the bathroom or kitchen," Graham said. "Don't leave them running indefinitely."
Some less obvious places heat escapes include electrical outlets and chimneys.
"Install insulating gaskets around electric gaskets and caulk around baseboards. Keep the damper closed in the fireplace when it's not in use," Graham said.