Predictions for the winter are all too chilly — colder temperatures and higher energy costs.
The Energy Information Administration made this forecast earlier this month as cooler temperatures persuaded consumers to dial up thermostats for indoor heat.
The agency predicts that heating oil costs will be almost 22 percent higher than last year, with natural gas, propane and electricity also experiencing increased costs for the coming heating season.
Electric customers can take some comfort in that electricity is expected to have the lowest increase of the major sources of heat, with a 3.9 percent jump.
Appalachian Power Company representative John Shepelwich told the Times-News last month that Kingsport’s primary power provider should maintain electricity costs at or a little below last year’s figures.
The company has suggested tips that consumers can follow to keep their heating costs low this winter:
•Have your furnace and ductwork inspected annually by a professional to ensure your equipment is operating safely and at peak efficiency.
•Caulk, seal and weatherstrip all openings from your home to the out-side. Install plastic sheeting or storm windows over old or leaking win-dows. Eliminating air leaks in your home can save you as much as 10 percent in energy costs.
•More attic insulation may be needed if the ceiling joists are visible. R-30 to R-38 insulation levels (10 to 16 inches of blown) are recommended.
•Set your thermostat to 68 degrees. Consider installing a programmable thermostat that maintains a lower temperature in your home during times when you are away.
•Maintaining consistent temperatures within a few degrees will help save money. Encourage family members to reach for sweaters, hot drinks and sofa throws instead of turning up the heat.
•Unless it is equipped specifically for home heating, use your fireplace sparingly, since warm air escapes through the chimney. Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
•Remove or reposition any furniture or other items that may be blocking floor or return air vents.
•Limit the use of bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans — they can pull warm air from your home quickly. Take shorter showers to reduce water-heating costs, and open bathroom doors after showers to allow the moist heat to circulate to other rooms.
•Open draperies and blinds on south-facing windows to allow sunlight to enter in daylight hours to take advantage of the warm sunrays. Close draperies and blinds on these windows at night to maintain heat.
•Set your water heater temperature to between 120 and 140 degrees, depending on family size.
Further examples of steps a homeowner can take for energy conservation can be found at Appalachian Power’s Web site: www.appalachianpower.com.
Click on “Customer Service.”