Thermostat wars: finding the perfect temperature to avoid big bills

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"We try to unplug stuff, turn the lights off, whatever we can do to save money," said Cody Volk.

He and his roommate, Courtney Nehring, have gotten serious about saving.

Both college students share a 125-year-old house with four others and have plenty of bills to pay. But it is the latest bill that has really opened their eyes.

"When I saw it was $326, I was like wow," Nehring said.

$326 for electricity this month. That is up from $50 this past summer.

"Not happy, I was shocked, no way it could go that much," Nehring said.

They have gone to the extreme, getting a lock box to put over the thermostat. They say one of their roommates used to crank it up to 80 degrees at night.
"If he needs to turn it up, he talks to us, she keeps the keys," Volk said.

That has created other types of heat in the house.

"We kinda had a talk about it, Jordan wasn't too happy, but we can't afford it since we're going to school so it's tough," Volk added.

"Natural gas remains relatively flat but bills are going up because of usage," said Liz Wolf Green with Xcel Energy.

She says even though natural gas is at a historic low, about half of the price of propane or fuel oil, colder temps are fueling bigger bills.

"As you recall last winter was unseasonably warm and this winter people are using about 10 to 15 percent more than last year," she added.

She recommends buying programmable thermostats that control temperatures, turning the heat down when you are away or going to bed. Any possible cut, Cody and Courtney are open to.

"It's tough, we're poor right now, paying for all that," Volk added.

Click here to read about energy saving tips.

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