PORTLAND -- An extreme cold snap is winding down in the Portland Metro area, but it will likely be just the first of many this winter, so the Oregon Public Utility Commission has released some tips for reducing heating bills through the cold winter months.

Use furnaces and heaters wisely:

  • Set the thermostat at the lowest possible comfortable setting, which for many people is 68 degrees. Each degree the thermostat is lowered can cut heating costs by up to 3 percent.
  • Turn the thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees during sleeping hours or while nobody's home
  • Use a programmable thermostat.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters once a month, or as needed.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.


  • Use caulking and weather stripping to help keep warm air inside during the winter.
  • Add insulation around heat ducts in unconditioned areas, such as attics, crawl spaces and garages.
  • Hire a professional to repair any holes or separated joints in the duct system.
  • Check to see that the fireplace flue is tightly closed when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Keep drapes and shades on south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight in, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.

Year-round tips:

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights.
  • Air-dry dishes instead of using the dishwasher s drying cycle.
  • Use a microwave oven instead of a conventional electric range or oven whenever possible.
  • Turn off computers and monitors when not in use.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and VCRs, into power strips and turn power strips off when equipment is not in use.
  • Lower the thermostat on the hot water heater; 115 degrees is comfortable for most uses.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

Click here for more from the U.S. Department of Energy

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