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As cold weather arrives, here's how to save on your heating bill

Heating costs are expected to rise for the third year in a row.

ATLANTA — Home heating costs are on the rise, but there are simple steps homeowners can take to save on their energy bills.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, increases in the cost of natural gas will mean most Americans will pay at least 28% more for their heating bills this year, or an average of $931 for the winter.

Atlanta is waking to the first cold snap of the season with temperatures dropping into the 30s. The temptation is to crank the thermostat. But according to the U.S. Department of Energy, every degree you add to the thermostat costs you an additional 3% on your energy bill.

John Kraft of Georgia Power explained that keeping the thermostat at 68-degrees during the winter is the best way to save, though added "it’s really going to be your personal comfort and what you can stand based on what it does to your bill.”

To assure that your heating system is running as efficiently as possible, make sure your vents are not blocked. Move furniture and rugs away from the openings where air flows.

“If you have a sofa right up against your register, that can block the airflow and make the unit struggle and work harder,” Kraft said. “That’s going to take longer to heat your home and that means more energy used.”

The same goes for your outside unit. Clear bushes and shrubbery away to maximize airflow.

Make sure you clean and replace old filters that are a part of your heating unit.

“Many people have smart thermostats now,” said Kraft. “Some of them actually learn your habits and can adjust the settings appropriately through the day or when you’re not home.”

Georgia Power’s website has numerous tips on how to save on an energy bill that’s expected to rise for the third straight year.

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