How to Put a Serious Dent in Your Energy Bills

Stop sending so much money to your utility company with these simple strategies.

Be mindful about your relationship with energy.    Think about it.  Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later!  With other services you get a choice of whether to buy based on price.  With enery you don’t get that choice – unless you intentionally decide not to buy.  You can take control by making yourself aware that you’re spending money on something you don’t need each time you leave home with the AC on high, lights and ceiling fans on, and your computer wide awake.  That mindfulness is important, because your relationship with energy is intensifying.  You and practically every other person on the planet are plugging in more and more.  It used to be that heating and cooling were the largest energy hogs, but now appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting together have that honor.  Being mindful means it’s also time to banish four assumptions that are sabotaging your energy-efficiency efforts.

  1. Newer homes (less than 30 years old) are already energy efficient because they were built to code.  Don’t bank on it!  Building codes change pretty regularly, so even newer homes benefit from improvements.
  2. Utilities are out to get us:  They’ll jack up prices no matter what we do.  It might feel cathartic to blame them.  But to get any rate changes, utilities must make a formal case to public utility commissions.
  3. An energy efficient home is a healthier home, and people will pay more for that.  60% of consumers said that telling someone that an energy-efficient home is a healthier home is an effective way to get people to spend $1,500 on efficient home features.  Energy efficient features are associated with health benefits, but expecting a specific return is unrealistic.
  4. Expensive improvements will have the biggest impact.  That’s why homeowners often choose pricey projects like replacing windows, which should probably be fifth or sixth on the list of energy-efficient improvements.  There’s nothing wrong with investing in new windows.  They feel sturdier; look pretty; can increase the value of your home; feel safer than old, crooked windows; and yes, offer energy savings you can feel (no more draft!).  But new windows are the wrong choice if your only reason for the project was reducing energy costs.  You could replace double-pane windows with new efficient ones for about $9,000 to $12,000 and save $27 to $111 a year on your energy bill.  OR… could spend around $1,000 for new insulation, caulking, and sealing, and save 11% on your energy bill , or $227.

The 5 things that really work to cut energy costs:

  1. Caulk and seal air leaks.  Buy a few cans of Great Stuff and knock yourself out over the weekend to seal around: plumbing lines, electric wires, recessed lighting, windows, crawl spaces and attics.  Savings:  Up to $227 a year…..and even more if you add or upgrade your insulation.
  2. Hire a pro to seal ductwork and give your HVAC a tune-up.  Leaky ducts are a common energy waster.  Savings:  Up to $412 a year.
  3. Program your thermostat.  40% of consumers in surveys admit they don’t program their thermostat for energy savings.  Savings:  Up to $180 a year.
  4. Replace all your light bulbs with LEDs.  They’re coming down in price, making them even more cost effective.  Savings: $75 a year or more by replacing your five most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star rated models.
  5. Reduce the temperature on your water heater.  Set your tank heater to 120 degrees – not the 140 degrees most are set out of the box.  Also wrap an older water heater and the hot water pipes in insulating material to save on heat loss.  Savings:  $12 to $30 a year for each 10-degree reduction in temp.

For information on available utility funds to help pay for energy improvement, contact Falvey Real Estate Group, Ltd. @ 518.452.3912