Keeping Your Energy Bills (and Blood Pressure) In Check! – On the House

Keeping Your Energy Bills (and Blood Pressure) In Check!

By on June 30, 2015

According to the United States Department of Energy, the typical American household spends $1,400 a year on energy bills. Owing to the rising cost of energy and an altruistic spirit to save the earth, many people are taking action by employing one or more the following energy saving upgrades that can, collectively, yield a 30% savings or more than $400 per year.

Tune Up Your Furnace/Air Conditioner: Heating and cooling costs the average homeowner about $600 a year — nearly half the home’s total energy bill. Maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups.

A typical maintenance check-up should include the following.

  • Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.
  • Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
  • Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use.
  • Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.
  • Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.

Seal & Insulate Ducts: Incredibly, better than half of American households are heated or cooled with ducted forced-air systems. Unfortunately, the average forced-air duct system loses about 30% of the energy produced by the furnace or air conditioner in the course of distributing air to the rooms. Fortunately, this energy loss can be reduced by sealing duct joints with mastic or a high-quality metal-faced duct tape. In addition, insulating ducts in unconditioned spaces such as attics, basements and crawl spaces will further improve energy efficiency.

Install a Programmable Thermostat: According to the US Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat can save 5-30% of your heating and cooling bill by automatically adjusting the thermostat setting at night or at times when your home is unoccupied, saving you about $100 per year. For the most versatility and energy savings potential, look for a programmable thermostat that has up to four programming day parts and programming options for weekdays and weekends.

Seal Air Leaks: One of the most do-it-yourself-friendly energy upgrades is sealing air leaks — big energy wasters and comfort buster. Sealing air leaks is simply plugging holes, cracks, and gaps where air can pass into or out of your home using caulk, expandable foam and/or other weather-stripping. On hot and cold days, you pay money to run an air conditioner or a furnace to maintain your home at a comfortable temperature. A house that leaks air costs more to heat or cool because your system must work longer to “condition” the air. In addition, if you happen to sit next to one of those leaks, you are uncomfortable because the room feels hotter or colder. Sealing those air leaks will help you maintain your home at a comfortable temperature all year long and help lower utility bills. The biggest holes are most often found in the attic and the basement.

Add Insulation: Insulation is designed to resist heat flow. Thus, if it is hot outside, insulation greatly reduces the amount of heat you can feel inside a house. By the same token, if it is cold outside, insulation helps keep the heat inside the house. Without insulation, the walls of your house would be very hot to the touch during the summer and your air conditioner would be required to work harder to keep you cool. In the winter, a lack of insulation makes walls very cold to the touch and the furnace must work harder to keep you warm. The US Department of Energy suggests that exterior walls be insulated to at least R-11 and ceilings to at least R-38.

Wrap Your Water Heater & Pipes: Putting an insulating wrap on your water heater can reduce your water heating costs. Water heater blankets usually cost $10-20 and are available at hardware stores and home improvement centers. Wrapping water pipes with prefabricated neoprene insulation will prevent the water temperature within pipes from dropping so radically, thus reducing the amount of energy needed to raise the water temperature and thus improving comfort.

Install Compact Florescent Lighting: Lamps used more than two hours per day on average are good candidates for replacement with compact fluorescent lamps. The energy bill savings will more than pay for the extra cost of the lamps over their lifetime, and you will have to replace fewer lamps because fluorescent lamps last ten times longer than ordinary light bulbs. In addition, motion sensors or timers on outdoor lights can help reduce the electricity bill for these high-use lamps.

Replacing Windows: To save energy and make your home more comfortable, when replacing windows use windows with wood or vinyl frames, low-E glass, and argon gas between the panes of glass, which can save a significant amount of money on your energy bill.

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.



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