Area utility companies, the Department of Energy and other federal agencies offer several winter energy-saving tips for homeowners:
Oil-fired furnaces can be as much as 30 per cent more efficient with annual cleaning and maintenance, use of flue restrictors, adjustment of burner firing rate or replacement of the burner with a smaller model - most homes have oversize burners, according to the National Bureau of Standards. For a free pamphlet, write Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colo., 81009 (Dept. 620F).
Set thermostats no higher than 68 degrees during the day and 60 at night, advises Washington Gas Light Co. (Pepco suggests 62-65 at night; Vepco doesn't say, and other groups suggest settings as low as 58 at night and 65 during the day.). Fuel bills increase 3 per cent with every degree higher, regardless of the type of fuel, according to utility companies.
Wrap water heaters in fiber glass blankets and set the temperature lower. Vepco suggests 150-160 degrees, Pepco says 140, and some recommend as low as 120 degrees.
Fix leaking faucets. A dripping not water faucet that fills a paper cup in 10 minutes wastes 3,280 gallons of heated water a year.
Install storm windows, or tack plastic on screen doors and windows, and caulk and weatherstrip all window and door cracks, except near furnace and water heater which need air supply. A full 15 to 30 per cent of fuel bills results from air leakage and cold air infiltration, government studies show. Keep draperles and shutters open by day to let the sun warm rooms and closed at night for insulation.