Ask Andy: keeping comfy...and costs down...in the cold

Ask Andy: keeping comfy...and costs down...in the cold

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The fine folks at Memphis, Light, Gas & Water told us in these gosh-awful temperatures, the thermostat setting for the average, optimal comfort and cost is 68 F. Spokesperson Gale Jones Carson said every degree above 68 F can add as much as four percent to your utility costs.

You don't care. You're cold -- and you're going to ride that thermostat like a rodeo bull to keep warm. OK, fine.

If you won't maintain 68 F -- and you won't wear three layers of sweatshirts and socks -- then you can pull the plug on some appliances that are sucking the blood from your utility budget.

Consumer advocates call them 'vampire appliances.' A few of them may come as a surprise as to how much money they drain monthly from your bill:

* CABLE/SATELLITE TV BOX. The U.S. Department of Energy said a standard cable TV box left plugged in all the time can add as much as $18 to your monthly bill, or more than double that if it includes a DVR. Unplug it when you're not watching or recording shows, and you'll pocket that cash.

*  PLASMA TV. Some folks feel better if their TV's stay on all the time. It makes them feel safe or less lonely. If it's a plasma or flat-screen TV, it'll make them pay, too. "Plasma screen TV's use as much energy as a refrigerator," said MLGW Energy Doctor Wil Williams. When Williams ran an energy audit for a Cordova, TN, woman in 2008, the two TV's she left on were draining her bill $20.25 a month.

* LASER PRINTERS. Hard line or wireless, who thinks to unplug these? We all should. MLGW and the Tennessee Valley Authority said laser printers left plugged in and on stand by can sap $12 a month.

* WATER HEATER. Some homeowners simply keep it too hot. Williams said keeping it at a steady 120 F will hold costs down while adequately heating.

No appliance is too small. That toaster oven you keep plugged in? Pull that plug and save $2 a month. It adds up.

In extreme weather, maintaining control of your power bill is about the two D's:  degrees and devices. Manage both -- and it doesn't hurt to throw on an extra T-shirt, close the garage door and shut the vents and doors of empty rooms.

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