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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Propane, heating oil users face costly winter

From an article by Anne Jungen and Samantha Marcus and in the La Crosse Tribune:

Kate Pahl’s December heating bill sent chills down her spine. A new homeowner, Pahl lowered the temperature in her three-bedroom, town of Greenfield mobile home -- first from 72 to 65 degrees, and finally to 55.

Still, her monthly propane bill rose from $200 to $400 to $600.

The dance was maddening.

“(Last) winter was horrible, and it wasn’t even that cold,” the 22-year-old said. “I realize I live in a trailer. I realize it doesn’t have the greatest insulation. But I pay more for this than my parents pay for a three-story house.”

She and her father crawled underneath adding insulation, and she planned to later add weather stripping and tape her windows.

“I’m going to basically wrap my whole place in Saran Wrap,” she mused late in the summer.

But as cold weather months approached, Pahl decided not to stick around and find out what this winter has in store. Last week she sold her home.

“I know this winter would just kill me,” Pahl said. “I knew I would not be able to handle it by myself.”

All Wisconsin residents will be paying more to heat their homes this year, but propane and heating oil customers will be hit especially hard.

Without the cover of government intervention, they are at the mercy of the free market and lack a cold weather rule keeping them warm if the tank runs dry. . . .

How to save on your heating bill
+ If you are a propane or heating oil customer, fill your tank during early fall when prices are lower.
+ Weatherize your home with proper insulation; caulk and weather strip windows and doors.
+ Install a programmable thermostat, and lower the temperature when you’re away or sleeping.
+ Open drapes and shades to let sunlight heat your home; close them in the evening to prevent heat from escaping.
+ Make sure heating vents are not blocked.
+ Use plastic window coverings to reduce drafts.
+ Use furnaces and appliances that are Energy Star qualified.
+ Clean or replace furnace filters monthly.
+ Close the damper in fireplaces when not in use.
+ Close doors to rooms not being used.
Learn about more energy savings ideas and renewable energy options at Focus on Energy.

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