By Sherry SwenskHere comes that summer heat again! For sun worshippers who love to be outdoors, you’re more than ready to throw out the welcome mat. But for those who hibernate this time of year, you’d rather put up the “do not disturb” sign—especially when that first expensive power bill arrives. You can relax and chill; there are some easy fixes you can do around your home to help you keep your cool and bring your energy costs down this season.
Whether you live in a single-family home, townhouse, condo or apartment where you pay your own electric bills, some simple measures can add up to big savings when it comes to using energy. One of the easiest is replacing all of your lighting with energy-efficient CFL or LED light bulbs; lower energy used adds up over time. You’ll use less electricity, replace the bulbs far less often and the cooler bulbs give off less heat so your home stays cooler when the lights are on.
If a room is too hot or too cold from the rest of the house, cooled air is leaking out somewhere before it gets to that part of the house, or it’s not getting there at all. Sometimes weather stripping can be a simple step in sealing your home to keep it cooled efficiently. Run your hand along the door frames and window sills. Do you feel air flowing through? You probably need to replace or install new stripping. It’s inexpensive and simple to install.
According to Marc Hale of Today’s Energy Store, a leaky home can send valuable energy dollars right out the front door, through the windows and even escaping through hidden places you’d least expect, like electrical outlets, switch plate covers and plumbing underneath your sinks. Hale said when air is leaking through a home, it usually indicates a breakdown of weather stripping, poor insulation in the attic or both. Hale performs energy audits, assessing your home’s strengths and weaknesses in energy performance.
If your power bills are unusually high and you feel you’re running the A/C on a moderate scale, you might want to investigate with a full home energy audit. Today’s Energy Store is one of several companies you can hire to do a visual assessment, then dig even deeper into your attic to see how your insulation measures up and perform various other tests to find your home’s energy issues. You’ll get their recommendations of repairs and fixes, but you’re not obligated to do any of them. An audit for an average sized home runs about $500, but Hale says some of that cost can be reduced if they make improvements for you.
NV Energy offers a free onsite tool to all their customers through the MyAccount program. It’s free to sign up and offers a lot of insight into your own energy consumption habits. You can do your own energy analysis of your home, compare it to neighbors and get some ideas on how to save energy and pay less on your power bill.
If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, you can always hire a reputable handyman or woman to take care of the lighter load fixes, like weather stripping and window caulking. Check with the Better Business Bureau or a local home hardware store for recommendations on qualified and licensed contractors.
So now as those blistering hot months come at us, maybe you won’t have to hide from your power bills. Defend your home against the heat by making your energy efficiency smarter this summer!