By Ryan Lengerich
As gas prices rise and winter approaches, homeowners have a variety of options to keep energy bills low.
At Tucumcari Lumber, demand for winterizing products has been high in recent weeks. Store employee John Thompson said taking simple precautions and spending a relatively low amount of money to prevent heat loss can save homeowners hundreds of dollars throughout a winter season.
“I live in a ranch house outside of town — I’ve got to seal the windows of my house inside and out every year, make sure the doors are sealed and there is no cracked glass,” Thompson said.
Spray foam used for sealing air leaks around doors and in cracks is an easy way to prevent heat loss, Thompson said. Common products such as weatherstripping is used to seal gaps in windows. Thresholds seal door leaks and plastic sheeting can be stapled to the outside of windows to knock down wind.
Thompson said most winterizing materials are simple to install for any homeowner.
“Most of these kits come with everything you need,” he said.
At PNM gas company several brochures are available with tips for reducing household energy loss.
PNM Senior Operations Representative Mike Pate said the company encourages people to preserve energy because the company does not profit from higher gas consumption. Law prohibits gas companies from marking up gas prices.
Pate said shutting down the heater when away from home and turning down the thermostat during sleeping hours can reduce energy consumption.
According to the PNM Web site, lowering a thermostat five degrees at night or two degrees during the day will save 15-20 percent on heating costs.
Pate also said even a slight hot water leak can cause a water heater to demand more energy and drive gas prices abnormally high.
“If you have a hot water leak, it can get quite costly,” Pate said.
Winterizing a house means more than stopping cold air flow. Foam pipe covers prevent possible water line breaks during a deep freeze, a problem Thompson said is inexpensive to prevent but costly to repair.
One of the best ways to cut costs on the gas bill is insulating your home, which can be pricey but in the long run will helps save money, said Alan Roberts, manager of Trader Horn’s True Value Hardware in Portales.
For an 1,800-square-foot home insulation in the attic can run between $500 to $1,000. A fully insulated home can save more than 20 percent on a gas bill, Roberts estimated.
“It all starts with your insulation,” Roberts said. “A lot of people say they can heat their house with a candle because it’s so well insulated.”
A homeowner should have begun preparing their house about a month ago, Thompson said, but now is not too late to prevent further energy loss or weather related catastrophes.
“The problem is sometimes people wait until it is too late,” he said.
Portales News Tribune Managing Editor Mike Linn contributed to this story.