LEWISTON – Temperatures are going down. Fuel costs are going up.

Most are worried about rising energy costs and the bigger bite staying warm will take out of budgets.

According to an unscientific survey of Shaw’s shoppers Wednesday, some are taking action to cut costs. Others already have and credit their wood stoves with helping them beat high costs.

And most are turning their thermostats below 70 degrees and reaching for sweaters. According to the frugal bunch, the average thermostat setting was in the mid-60s.

Meanwhile at the Augusta Blaine House, the home of Gov. John Baldacci, the heat is set at 68 degrees, said spokesman Dan Cashman. There is no one thermostat at the Cross State Office Building, but the heat is set as close to 68 as possible, Cashman said.

While loading groceries in her vehicle, Marian Asselin of Lewiston said her thermostat was turned to 66. Her family just bought a new furnace. “The old one was 30 years old.” They’re hoping it’ll use less oil. At home long sleeves and sweaters are a staple.

Kirsten Crafts of Lewiston said her thermostat is set at 68. “My husband tries to turn it down during the day,” but she wonders if the savings are worth it considering the energy it takes to bring the temperature back up. To help cut oil costs her family has switched to propane for the stove and dryer.

Don and Diane Doyon of Lewiston said their temperature is set at 62. “And it’s too hot,” she said with a laugh.

They have different comfort zones. He gets cold. She gets hot. She said she lives with the heat higher than she’d like out of consideration for him. “He’s a diabetic,” she said.

Like most they’re worried about rising fuel costs. When asked what they’re doing about that, she said, “I’m crying, because I’m having oil delivered today! There’s nothing that we can do. We have to pay what’s on the market.”

Linda Bilodeau said her thermostat was turned to 65. Her Lewiston household has switched to energy-efficient lightbulbs and has caulked windows.

Linda Thibodeau’s heat is set at 68. In the winter it’s turned down further, to 65. Her home stays toasty thanks to their wood stove. Because of their wood stove, her heating bills “aren’t that bad,” Thibodeau said.

Ray Dufour of Sabattus has his thermostat turned to 63. When it gets colder he’ll crank it to 65 or 68. He reaches for a sweater before the thermostat, he said. Even though his heat is included in his rent, “I’m very careful because my landlord is a good friend of mine. I try to keep it down.”

Jerry Bonenfant of Sabattus said his thermostat is set at 73. He’s “very, very concerned” about rising costs. He’s fighting back by adding more insulation to his home.

Jackie Caron of Lewiston didn’t seem too worried about rising heating costs. And she sets her heat at 64. “If it’s really, really cold, we’ll bring it up to 72. I’m trying to live comfortably, but within reason.”

A well-insulated home and a wood stove allows her to turn the heat down to 64, she said. Her son helps, too. He provides her with wood for the entire winter from his land. “I get the wood for free. So what more do you want?” Caron said with a laugh. “Sweat pants and sweat shirts, and we’re fine.”

John Kerry, director of Maine’s Office of Energy Independence and Security, applauds the homeowners who turn down the heat, saying it does make a difference.

“For every degree you turn down the thermostat, you increase the savings by 1 percent. If you turn the heat from 70 to 65, you’ll save 5 percent,” he said. “The savings is there.”

Kerry cautioned seniors have to be careful, that medical experts recommend their heat not be lower than 65. “Anything below 65 for a senior you have to watch out for hypothermia,” Kerry said. “The rest of us can put on sweaters.”

At his home Kerry said his thermostat setting “is usually a fight between me and my wife and the kids.” She likes it higher. He likes it lower.

It’s set at 60 at night, 65 during the day. Like the Wednesday shoppers, he dresses warmly. “I’m the sweater-slipper-socks-and-vests guy.”


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