As the temperatures dip into the 40s or lower at night in the CSRA, the heat is probably kicking on a lot more and the cost of residents' electricity bills could be on the rise.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling a home averages about 54 percent of utility bills. Both SCE&G and Aiken Electric Cooperative have energy saving tips that could help lessen the blow to their customers' wallets this winter. From ensuring one's home is well insulated to simply turning the heat down a few degrees, residents can make a big difference in electricity or gas usage.

Both companies suggest setting thermostats at 68 or lower in the winter. According to SCE&G website, each degree higher could increase heating costs “significantly.” They also suggest making sure all air filters are checked monthly and changed when they're dirty to ensure adequate air flow through a home. Check ducts for leaks or tears, as well.

The U.S. Department of Energy also suggests making sure vents are not covered by furniture.

Running ceiling fans on low during the winter can also be beneficial, according to Aiken Electric's website. Reversing the rotation of a ceiling fan during the winter will create an updraft, which will force warm air down into the room, according to the Department of Energy.

SCE&G suggests caulking, sealing and weather-stripping any cracks or seams to prevent heat from seeping out.

Letting in the sunshine by opening shades and drapes during the day and closing them at night will also help keep a home a little warmer, according to Aiken Electric.

SCE&G reports having one's central heating and cooling system serviced as well as upgrading insulation in an attic to 12 to 14 inches will help trim electricity or gas costs.

Both companies also suggest setting water heaters to 120 degrees and visually inspecting the unit for leaks. Aiken Electric states that 115 degrees for a household of one or two people should suffice.

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Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010.

She is a native of Rustburg, Va. and a graduate of Randolph Macon Woman's College.