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How to save money on your home energy bills

ABC News, By Tim Pandajis, November 26, 2015

How to save money on your home energy bills!

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Meet Nejla Cohen, our homeowner in Chesterfield county and Susan Hill from Richmond Region Energy Alliance, our energy expert. The first topic in Nejla’s home is the lighting, you can save tons of money by just switching out your lightbulbs.

Susan says, “switching over to efficient lighting like CFL’s or LED’s will save you a lot of money. They use about one fifth of the energy of old light bulbs.”

How much do you think someone could save on their energy bills by switching out their light bulbs?

According to Susan, every light bulb you change saves about six or seven dollars a year. So that adds up!

There are several other tiny changes you can make throughout your home to save you money on that energy bill. One of which includes unplugging unused appliances.

Even when things are off but plugged in they are still drawing power. It’s really important to go around your house, that little light on the coffee maker, that’s a draw on energy. The standby charge accounts for as much as ten to fifteen percent of our power bill.

Susan explained, “refrigerators are our biggest energy-consuming appliances in our house. A lot are set around 34 to 35 degrees and that is costing maybe an extra fifteen dollars a year, but it is still something, it adds up.”

Water heaters in our home easily drain our energy budget if they’re not properly insulated. Insulating hot water pipes is another great way to save energy. Every foot of pipe wrap saves you about two dollars and fifty cents a year. Also check the setting on your water heater. The temperature at which it is set at will save you dollars on your energy bill. The recommended setting is one hundred and twenty degrees.

Susan says, “the recommended setting is 68 degrees so if you can handle dropping it back a little bit, putting on a sweater it can really save you a significant amount of money.

Are you familiar with the emergency backup heat mode? We need that setting when it gets below freezing but it also turns on your backup heat if you bump it up more than two degrees at a time and that gets expensive.

Most people think that they lose the most amount of energy in their homes through their windows but Susan says that’s not particularly the case.

“I want to debunk a myth today about windows. Windows are not the first place to start when you want to improve your homes efficiency. We actually use a lot more energy from our attic then we do out the sides with windows.

For all intensive purposes the attic is outside your home that air is going to feel similar to the outside air. Before we install insulation we have to seal up gaps around plumbing, wires, old chimneys. All these places add up to a window in our house that we have open all the time.”

Many homes in central Virginia not only have an attic but a crawl space beneath the home, that also is a huge area that you are losing energy every day.”

Susan was happy to see that Nejla has a vapor barrier on the ground, that is very important that prevents moisture from coming up into your home. In the crawl space we often have duct work. Duct work is actually very leaky, our industry assumes the average duct system is leaking about thirty percent, make sure your ducts are well sealed.

Here is something you can take to the bank, these energy audits are free of cost to homeowners. All you have to do is contact your local energy auditor to set up an appointment.

Nejla was more than happy with the results, “I didn’t know that these programs are out there, that you can get free audits, get new light bulbs and things to try and save money. This will be a big help on the light bill here.”