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Ron Graber
Ron Graber is the member services and communication specialist for Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative. He is a trained energy auditor, and provides advice on energy efficiency, conservation and renewable generation. Ron can be contacted at rong@heartland-rec.com.
2011-07-01 08:19:00
Saving money on monthly utility bills
Answer: As summer temperatures start to rise, many of us take advantage of air conditioning in our home and workplace to keep cool. This can also lead to higher electric bills. Luckily, there are measures you can take to mitigate that higher electric use. The first thing to do is to adjust the thermostat. Lowering a thermostat in winter can save as much as $85 per year. During warmer months, raising the thermostat a few degrees can save money, too. Set the temperature between 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and you could save up to 8 percent on monthly cooling bills. Programmable thermostats make it easy to save by offering several pre-programmed settings to regulate a home’s temperature throughout the year. Second, be a “fan-atic”. While they don’t replace air conditioners or heat pumps, fans move air and help you feel more comfortable. On milder days, fans can save as much as 60 percent on electric bills. Fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off when you leave. Third, windows let a large amount of radiant heat into our home during hot summer days. Lowering blinds and closing curtains during the day will keep that heat out. Reflective film on window panes and some window treatments will keep out as much heat as possible. Well-planned landscaping can also do a lot to help keep a home cool. Trees, bushes and vines all intercept the sun’s rays, keeping them from heating your home. Don’t forget, maintenance of air conditioners and heat pumps is essential. I recommend that homeowners have their HVAC systems serviced annually by a NATE (North American Technician Excellence)-certified technician. This HVAC professional will check your entire system to make sure it runs efficiently. This will help to extend life of the system and save money. When it’s time to replace your cooling system, I recommend replacing it with an Energy Star- qualified heat pump. Doing so could reduce your energy costs by as much as 30 percent. Tax credits and rebates on Energy Star appliances are available from the federal government as well as from many electric utilities, so do your research. Bigger isn’t always better. Too often, cooling equipment isn’t sized properly and leads to higher electric bills. A unit that’s too large for your home will cycle on and off quickly, not cool evenly and might produce higher humidity indoors. That’s why it is important to talk to energy efficiency experts at your electric utility or HVAC contractor.
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