To avoid expensive utility bills this freezing winter, utility company spokesmen are urging Washington metropolitan residents to use a number of conservation measures.

The first step is to turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. In Virginia, they are recommending that residents turn down the dial to 65.

The next step, according to the spokesmen, is to avoid using utilities unnecessarily. Don't leave your lights on. Don't heat rooms when you aren't there. Avoid opening the door of a heated oven.

Another method, according to a Potomac Electirc Power Company spokesman, is to keep a fan running in warm rooms. He said the fan circulated warm air throughout the house. He said keeping the fan spinning will negate the need to heat every room.

The Pepco spokesman also advised consumers to close window curtains that do not face the sun to prevent heat from escaping and to open draperies facing the sun to let heat in.

A Washington Gas Light Company spokeswoman also suggested that area residents use weather stripping under their doors and purchase storm windows or make them out of plastic.

She also cautioned area residents against turning up the heat on their gas ovens and opening the oven door to heat their homes. "It will make their bills skyrocket and cause a grave safety hazard," she said.