New Extremes for Texas Weather

Direct Energy offers tips for keeping bills low despite the cold

Jan 06, 2010, 11:17 ET from Direct Energy

HOUSTON, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The first full week of 2010 is bringing in lower-than-normal temperatures to Texas as an arctic front moving across the state promises below-freezing lows for much of this week and into the weekend. Direct Energy's meteorologists indicate that even Houston could bottom out with lows near 20 Saturday morning, while the Dallas Metroplex could see temperatures drop into the teens. While residents across the Lone Star State brace for the worst cold front since December 1990, tips and tools are available to keep energy bills in check, and Direct Energy has quick, easy and long-term energy-savings tips for homeowners to prepare for the cold.

"The sudden drop in temperatures doesn't necessarily have to equate to higher energy bills for Texans," said Jim Steffes, Vice President and General Manager, Direct Energy. "By implementing a few very easy changes, consumers can lower their energy usage not just during this cold snap, but all year long. It is possible to cut down on energy usage without sacrificing too much comfort - and it's a cheaper, more efficient way to manage your home as well."

Direct Energy, and its affiliates Hallmark Cooling. Heating. Plumbing. based in Houston, Airtron of Dallas-Fort Worth and Airco Mechanical of Austin offer the following advice to Texans for keeping usage down and comfort up:

Quick Fixes

  • Seal your doors, windows and air ducts with weather-stripping or caulk.
  • Install a programmable thermostat which can automatically lower and raise your home's air temperature when you are at work or sleeping.
  • Dress warmly or throw on an extra blanket when indoors and lower your thermostat; the US Department of Energy recommends setting the thermostat to 68 degrees F while you're awake and setting it lower while you're asleep or away from home in the winter. Their stats also reveal that you can save 5-15 percent a year on heating costs when the heat is set back 10 degrees - 15 degrees for 8 hours - like when everyone's at work and school, for example.
  • Turn off heat or close vents in unused rooms and shut the doors.
  • Be careful about using supplemental or alternative heating sources inside your home; some of these can be lethal when used indoors due to fumes and combustibility. In cases of system breakdown, the more prudent course is to have your heating system repaired by a qualified technician.
  • Close curtains on windows that aren't receiving direct sunlight to keep the heat in the house.
  • Throw down a rug on exposed floors to keep comfort levels up on colder days - it helps ease the impulse to turn up the heat.
  • Change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fan. For those cold, winter months, the blades should operate in a clockwise direction, helping to push the warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
  • For an instant, low-cost and temporary alternative to glazed windows, attach cling film to your window frame and set it in place with a hair dryer.
  • Install covers on letterboxes and/or keyholes to reduce indoor drafts.
  • Have a professional, trained technician inspect your heating and cooling systems twice a year - in the spring, and in the fall. Preventative maintenance can avoid costly breakdowns and repairs, and extend the life of your home's systems.
  • Clean or replace your system's filter every month to keep your heating and cooling system running smoothly and efficiently. A good rule of thumb is to clean or change your filter each time you pay your electricity bill.

Lasting Fixes

  • Ensure cavity walls are filled with insulation, which could help you save money every year.
  • Check the attic insulation levels, or ask a professional to come in to check for you. Attic insulation prevents energy waste during both winter and summer months, so top up as needed.
  • Don't lose heated air up your chimney! The chimney acts like an open window. Remember to close the chimney flue when the wood-burning fireplace isn't in use.
  • Invest in a home energy audit to make sure you understand and can maximize improvements in those areas that will deliver the strongest and quickest return-on-investment. To Register for a Home Energy Audit visit

"We all can stand to use a little less energy without really impacting our comfort and lifestyle," said Steffes. "At the end of the day, the less you use, the less you have to pay."

About Direct Energy:

Direct Energy is a part of the Centrica group of companies, one of the largest multi-state providers of retail energy services in North America. The North American operations have grown to more than 5 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Through its Direct Energy, CPL Retail Energy and WTU Retail Energy brands, the company is the third largest retail energy provider in Texas. The company also offers comprehensive energy solutions to more than 60,000 commercial customers across North America. Globally, the Centrica group of companies is a leading provider of energy and other essential services with approximately 32 million customer relationships. For more information, visit

SOURCE Direct Energy