January 8, 2011

Take Your Energy Bills Seriously

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency estimate that the average U.S. household spends $2,200/yr on energy. With rising energy costs looming, it makes sense to keep an eye on how you're using energy. Here's how most homes use energy:

In the spirit of getting our bills down, I'll be writing regularly about things you can do to cut costs at home.  Today we'll start with heating and cooling since they are the big culprits.

I recently bought a programmable thermostat from my local hardware store for less than $30. I'll preface this by saying I'm not very handy...just determined.  I followed the directions and had it replaced in under an hour.  My unit had energy star settings pre-programmed; all I had to do was enter in my normal work schedule.  $25 and an hour later, I'm on my way to $180 savings per year. That's a 700% return, annually!

Some other easy ways to save big on your heating and cooling bills are to air seal, duct seal, and insulate. Many older houses allow hot and cold air to freely enter & leave your conditioned living space. Not only are you losing the warm or cold air you already paid for, it's also less comfortable.  Many states, local municipalities, and utility providers have incentives to make this more cost effective. Like always, don't pull the trigger until you've done your research.  Try calling your local government and your utilities to see what they're offering. Another good starting point is the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy.  If you can do-it-yourself, you might save some money. There are plenty resources available on-line or at your local hardware store.

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