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      Following a few simple tips can help you keep your heating and electric costs low this winter.

      Heating and electric bills can skyrocket during the cold Mid-Michigan winters. By following a few simple tips, you can keep your heating costs low, while still staying warm.1. Buy a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to set your heating levels based on the day and time. You can program the thermostat to turn the heat up in the morning when you wake up and turn the heat down when you normally leave the house. Programmable thermostats are usually inexpensive, and pretty easy to set up. Just install the thermostat and set the times and temperatures to your specific needs. This will give you more control over the heat in your home and alleviate the worry of having to constantly turn your thermostat up and down.

      2. Get an insulation blanket for your hot water heater. Hot water heaters get cold too, especially if they TMre located in your basement or garage where there is less insulation. When your hot water heater gets cold it has to work harder to heat the water for your home. Just like programmable thermostats, water heater blankets can be fairly inexpensive and they can help reduce your water heating costs by 4% - 9%. Be sure to choose a blanket with at least the insulating value of R-8. If you TMre not sure if your water heater needs extra insulation, you can check it by touching it. A water heater that is warm to the touch usually needs some additional insulation.

      3. Use a space heater. If there is a room in your house that you spend the majority of your time in, get a space heater to heat that room directly while keeping your thermostat low. While some space heaters use natural gas or propane, electric space heaters are the most common for home use. Most modern electric space heaters use ceramic heating elements and are fan forced. This allows for an even distribution of heat, while reducing the risk of fires or burns. That being said, space heaters can be a fire hazard so be sure to read and follow all manufacturer TMs instructions before using one.

      4. Dress warm and bundle up while you TMre sleeping. Instead of turning your thermostat up, throw on a sweatshirt or a pair of long johns. Pile extra blankets or comforters on your bed to keep you warm while you TMre asleep. Using extra clothing or blankets can help keep you warm and is less expensive than heating your entire house.

      5. Finally, nature has provided us with the cheapest, most effective furnace imaginable, the Sun. During sunny days, open blinds and curtains to let the light in. Not only will the sun help to warm your house naturally, but it might help to brighten your day a little.

      Living in Michigan means we TMre going to have to deal with cold weather every year. There TMs no way around it and there TMs no use fighting it. By following these simple tips, you can stay warm during the winter and not have to feel the pain every month when paying your heating and electric bills. For NBC25 and Goyette Mechanical, I TMm Rob Herman, helping you keep a healthy home.