Gulf Power Notice: Be Prepared for Extremely Cold Weather

Extremely cold weather is in the forecast for the next several days.
Gulf Power wants to make sure its customers stay warm, safe and conserve energy.

Things you can do right now as the very cold weather is upon us.

* Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower to conserve energy.

* Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans so they rotate
clockwise as you look up at it in order to force warm air down from the ceiling. Just flip the switch on the motor to reverse the direction the blades were turning during the summer.

* During the middle of the day, open blinds and curtains on the
sunny side of the house. Also, where possible, reduce the traffic in and out of the house.

* Don't use your oven to heat your home - it's not efficient and
most important, it's not safe. The oven produces extremely high heat, and leaving the door open can be a fire hazard.

* A fireplace is not always an efficient heat source. If not used
properly it can actually make the rest of the house cooler because airflow up the chimney removes the heated air. When using the fireplace, close all doors and warm air ducts to the room where the fireplace is located. Glass doors on a fireplace will reduce the outflow of warm air.

And a fireplace with a blower system is ever better because it actually
blows the warm air around the firebox back into the room.

* An electric blanket is more economical than heating the entire
house all night long.

* Use a portable electric heater to heat only a small area. Buy
models that are thermostatically controlled. Keep it at least three feet from items that could catch fire like curtains or furniture. Make sure you have working smoke detectors on every floor and in every sleeping room of your house.

* Make sure heating outlets and return air registers are not
blocked by furniture, draperies, doors or other obstacles.

* Use "draft stoppers" or towels/blankets to block drafts at foot
of door.

* If you should lose power, go to your thermostat and turn off
your heating system. Please wait 10 to 15 minutes after power has been restored before turning it back on. This prevents a power surge from shutting down electricity again.

* If you should lose power, please do not connect portable
generators to your household electrical wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and to Gulf Power employees who are restoring electricity.
Instead, plug appliances into the generator. Never use a generator in enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Things you can do to prepare your home for the whole winter season.

Temperature settings
Heating a house makes up about half of your electricity bill so set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower in the winter. Did you know that you can decrease the amount of energy you buy for heating by three percent or more for every degree below 68 degrees you set your thermostat?

Programmable thermostats are a good investment, or you can take advantage of Gulf Power's Energy Select. It's a program that allows customers to pay different rates for electricity during the day according to a set schedule. For only $4.95 per month you can save energy 87 percent of the time with Energy Select. The program comes with a free programmable thermostat so the homeowner controls the heating and cooling system, water heating and even pool pump to take advantage of the low price periods. It also comes with free surge protection and a system called outage alert. Outage alert will automatically notify Gulf
Power of a power outage at the home.

Heating and cooling equipment
The system heating the home is extremely important. If it's an older, less efficient unit, upgrading to a geothermal heating and cooling system - or a high efficiency air-source heat pump may be a wise choice.
Contact Gulf Power at 1-877-655-4001 for a free Energy Check-Up.

Routine maintenance
A well-maintained heating system runs more efficiently. A complete tune-up of the home heating system can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 and more, but this is a very worthwhile investment and can reduce your heating bill from 3 to 10 percent. Some companies offer regular service contracts, which are a convenience if you tend to forget system maintenance. Remember to replace the filter every month.

Ductwork
Duct leakage can account for 20 percent of the heating and cooling cost. Getting ducts sealed up should be at the top of the list for making your home energy efficient.

Insulation
Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most cost-effective energy saving measures. Different types of insulation material have different R-values.The recommended level is R-38 in the attic.

Weather-stripping and caulking
Weather-strip door jambs and caulk any cracks around windows to prevent cool air from entering your home.

Window units
If you have a window air conditioning unit, remove it for the winter months to prevent heat from escaping through and around the unit. If it can't be moved, put a cover over it to prevent drafts.

Humidifier
Use a humidifier to keep your home more comfortable. Adding moisture allows you to reduce the thermostat setting without feeling colder.

Other tips are available on the Energy Tips section at www.gulfpower.com, along with an extensive set of Frequently Asked Questions on energy use in the home.

Customers can get a free Energy Check-Up online or at your home with an appointment. Gulf Power energy experts will analyze your house and electricity use, and look for ways to make the house more energy efficient. Just go to www.gulfpower.com or call 1-877-655-4001.


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