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Tips to stay warm and save money this winter

Follow advice from the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission to cut heating costs.

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As weather in Minnesota dips to sub-zero temperatures, the state’s Department of Commerce and Public Utilities Commission encourage Minnesotans to conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses.

Simple steps can reduce energy bills by 10% or more and save money for families and businesses. According to a media release from the Commerce Department, actions that homeowners and renters can take to reduce energy costs include:

  • Control your furnace. Turn down the heat a few degrees when you are away or at night while you sleep. This step alone can save about 10% on your energy bills in winter. Also, install a “smart” thermostat with a program to automatically adjust the heat. Many utility companies offer rebates to cover part of this cost.

  • Add plastic film over windows. This keeps out drafts and can also extend the life of old windows. Buy window insulation kits that include double-sided tape and plastic that you cut to size.

  • Adjust your heat registers. If you have floor or wall vents, experiment with opening and closing them to control where warm air comes out to get the temperature you want in every room. If lower or basement rooms are too cold, open those vents and close upper-floor vents.

  • Apply for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP). This year, Commerce raised eligibility and benefits, paying up to $3,200 to cover energy bills for income-eligible households. The EAP helps people who own or rent their homes pay for current and past-due bills for electricity, gas, oil, biofuel and propane, emergency fuel delivery and repair or replacement of broken heating systems, and could also cover water and sewer bills.

To apply for the program or to find a local provider, search online for “Minnesota energy assistance,” visit mn.gov/energyassistance or call 800-657-3710 and press 1.
With the same application, households may also qualify for water bill assistance and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which can permanently reduce energy costs. Both EAP and WAP are federally funded, with Commerce working with local service providers across the state.

For more information, see Commerce’s video “12 Energy Saving Tips” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xwVNg0cZAo.

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