Temperatures are expected to dip in the 40s this weekend and trending colder as we head into December. Long-range forecasts are predicting cold-shots in late winter that could bring freezes and frosts to the central Gulf Coast.

With the arrival of colder temperatures, it’s time for Gulf Power customers to remember how to keep warm and be energy efficient to help keep bills low during the winter seasons.

“This is the perfect time of the year to prepare for colder temperatures and Gulf Power offers many low-cost and no-cost measures to save energy and save money,” said Kimberly Blair, Gulf Power spokesperson.

One thing customers can do immediately is sign up for Budget Billing.

“With Budget Billing, customers pay about the same amount each month with their bill averaged out based on their previous 12 month’s electrical usage,” Blair said. “That eliminates the drastic spikes from extreme temperatures.”

Another immediate fix — customers can get in the habit of leaving their thermostat at a constant temperature.

“Almost half of the energy in your home goes to heating and cooling,” Blair said. “For the greatest savings, in the winter, set your thermostat at 68° or below. For every degree over 68° you set your thermostat, you’ll pay 10 percent more in heating costs. If this temperature is too cool, adjust your thermostat at the lowest comfortable temperature.”

Setting wall thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit as a conservation measure in winter. Digital thermostat display is backlit.

Two more easy seasonal habits customs can adopt is reversing the setting on their ceiling fan to push hot air from the ceiling to the occupied areas of the room. And opening drapes and blinds on sun-facing windows during the day helps warm a room.

What else can customers do to manage their energy bills?

Energy Checkup

One of the easiest ways you can identify measures to conserve energy is through a free home Energy Checkup. Customers can also do their own online checkup from anywhere at any time on a laptop or tablet, or on a mobile device. The checkup provides a report that’s personalized for you, based on your home’s actual energy use and can be accessed whenever you want to look for ways to save money and energy.

Manage your energy use to control savings

Energy Select is a nationally recognized program that puts the power of savings in your

hands. By combining a unique variable price, an online programming and smart thermostat, Energy Select allows customers to take control of saving money and energy. This energy-saving program features a lower energy price 87 percent of the time, the convenience to control your comfort and savings, and FREE installation. You can sign up for alerts that will allow you to turn off your heating or cooling system during high rate times.

Programmable thermostat

With a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the temperature to the exact point of your own personal comfort. You don’t have to keep your heat or air conditioning on higher or lower settings while you’re away from home. You can create a schedule that follows your family’s routine and keep the temperature cool or warm while you’re there but eases up on the energy usage when you’re not home. And newer programmable thermostats can be adjusted by mobile app while you are on the go.

Find and Seal Leaks

Seal up your home so cold air can’t sneak in through doors, walls or a poorly insulated attic. Make sure there are no tiny holes in your ducts that could cause your heater to work harder. Install weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows if needed and Increase attic insulation, which can save you up to 30 percent on cooling and heating costs.

Maintain your heating systems

A well-maintained heating system runs more efficiently. A complete tune-up of the home heating system is a worthwhile investment and can reduce your heating bill every month. Some companies offer regular service contracts, which are convenient if you tend to forget system maintenance. And remember to change or clean your air filter monthly since dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency.

 Lower your lighting costs

One of the best ways to save energy: turn off lights that aren’t in use. Use fluorescent lighting or LEDs. They last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. And, they can produce four times more light than standard incandescent bulbs for the same amount of energy.

There are many other things you can do to make you and your home more comfortable in the winter such as us an electric blanket at night — it’s more economical than heating the entire house all night long. Check out more energy-savings tips here.