Conserve gas, cash this winter

The weather outside is frightful – or just kind of schizophrenic – but still scary nonetheless.

Just as volatile are gas prices, which could have people sweating out their heating bills.

As home owners begin to crank up the heat, the price of residential heating oil is likely to increase, according to the Energy Information Administration.

With the seasonal rise of home heating oil, your monthly heating bill is likely to take a big bite out of your budget this winter.

“Gas prices going up are always a concern to college kids who have to pay money they don’t have for bills like electricity and heat,” said Shane Bowman, a junior tourism and hospitality management major who lives at Girard Avenue.

Since money is so scarce for many college students, optimizing utilities can be the difference between a wasteful winter and a workable budget. Most are familiar with the cardinal rule of the thermostat; turn down the heat at night and when no one is home. By maintaining a temperature of 72 degrees to 65 degrees for at least eight hours a day, at least 10 percent can be cut from a monthly heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

If you live in a building where you do not directly control your thermostat, landlords are responsible for maintaining a temperature of at least 68 degrees during the winter season, according to the city’s department of Licenses and Inspections.

Other energy saving tips offered by the Department of Energy include washing your clothes in cold water and making sure all heating vents are unobstructed. Also, remember to open blinds on sunny winter days to take advantage of natural sunlight, which adds heat to your house or apartment.

One of the most important ways to conserve
heat is to make sure your entire home is correctly insulated.

“Once or twice a year we go through our apartments to make sure there is proper insulation. For example, making sure all doors and windows close properly,” said Bryan Reese, leasing manager at Oxford Village.

If your landlord doesn’t regularly keep up with your apartment’s insulation it’s actually something you can do yourself.

“I know someone who secured all of their windows with plastic,” Bowman said. “They just bought the supplies from a place like Home Depot.”

Many students, like Bowman, also use space heaters to save money. Turning down the thermostat and plugging in a space heater conserves heat significantly by focusing the heat in one or two rooms versus the entire apartment.

Living in an apartment building also has its perks, according to Bill Hamby, a junior tourism and hospitality major.

“I would just turn my heat off and dress in warm clothes because the hallways and lower floors would heat my apartment sufficiently,” Hamby said. If you curl up in blankets and throw on a sweatshirt, but your heating bill is still breaking
your bank account, PECO provides a solution:
“Budget Billing.”

“Basically, Budget Billing takes the price fluctuations out of bills by providing eligible customers with a stable monthly program,” said Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for PECO. The program takes past usages to determine a set price for each monthly bill.

Students can apply for the program on PECO’s Web site.

Rachel Madel can be reached at

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