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Energy saving tips Special To The Star-news | Sat, Feb 16 2013 12:00 PM

Even in sunny Southern California, winter brings colder weather and longer nights. That’s why home heating typically accounts for more than half the monthly winter bill for natural gas, followed by water heating. In addition, lighting can account for up to 20 percent of your monthly electric bill.

Did you know that electric central heat can cost up to $3.65 per hour, while natural gas central heat costs approximately $0.80 per hour? Additionally, gas water heaters (based on 55 gallons per day for a household of three) cost approximately $15.70 per month while electric water heaters can run between $45 and $90 each month. With shorter days and lights on longer during the winter, light bulb choices can also make a big difference on your bill. Compact fluorescent light bulbs cost less than half as much to use as incandescent bulbs, and can last 10 times as long.

Some tips to save energy and stay comfortable this winter include:

•Save up to 20 percent on your monthly winter energy bills by lowering the furnace thermostat three to five degrees (health permitting) and shutting it off before you leave home.

•Weather-strip and caulk your doors and windows.

•Keep vents clear of obstructions.

•Change or clean your HVAC filter regularly.

To get an idea of how your use of household appliances and lighting can affect your energy bill, take a look at “Your Energy Costs: A Room-by-Room Guide.” Better yet, take steps to start saving energy and money now. Try SDG&E’s free energy-management tool and winter tips and links to helpful programs.

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