It's cold! Winter energy saving tips from Duke Energy to keep you warm

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CINCINNATI -- With bitter temperatures making Tri-State residents mourn the days of summer, Duke Energy is offering helpful ways to save energy and stay warm.

Change your filter

So, what’s the big deal about changing or cleaning the air filters at home? We’re glad you asked! A dirty filter makes your heating system work harder, which uses more energy. Simply replace your filter every few months or opt for a washable one – they can last up to five years. And don’t forget: changing your filters can cut down on dust around the house.

Maintain your system

You probably change the oil in your car more than once a year. You should also properly maintain your heating and cooling system with regular service calls from a licensed technician. Like air filters, dirty coils and fans reduce airflow through your heating and cooling system. Annual or semi-annual check-ups can improve your system’s efficiency and prevent costly repairs.

Program your thermostat

You can save around 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day. If that sounds like a difficult task, then you should think about installing a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to automatically set specific temperatures at different times of the day.

Use your fans

The ceiling fans in your home are a great way to stay cool in the summer – and warm in the winter. Simply set the fans to operate in a clockwise direction. This will push warm air, which collects near the ceiling, back down into the room. And don’t forget to shut off ceiling fans when you’re finished in a room. Doing so will just add to your energy savings.

Clean in the cold

Ninety percent of the energy used by washing machines goes into heating the water. But most clothes don't require hot water to get a good cleaning, so think about using the cold water setting next time you do a load of laundry. Your regular detergent should work just fine, or you may want to try special detergents designed especially for cold water use.

Rinse before you load

As much as 80 percent of the energy your dishwasher uses goes to heat water. So, try turning off the “pre-rinse” option in favor of rinsing your dishes before you load them in the dishwasher. Also, you’ll be on your way to additional savings if you run the dishwasher only when it’s full.

Turn down the brightness

Some newer TVs are automatically configured for "store" mode, which is a brighter, high-energy mode set by manufacturers before they’re shipped to stores. It's fine for attracting attention in a showroom, but may be unnecessarily bright for your living room. Try out the "home" setting for a better picture, longer TV life and energy savings of up to 30 percent.

Unplug the unmentionables

“Energy vampires” loom in and around your home. Devices like your cell phone charger, gaming system and power strips use energy – even when you’re not using them. Think about unplugging certain electronics that you don’t use on a daily basis. Then try to change the way you use other equipment. For instance, if you don’t think you’ll use your computer for two hours, consider shutting it down. And only turn on your printer when you need it.

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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