Are you sick of the unbelievable dread that comes from seeing your electric bill show up in the mail every month? Californians unfortunately enjoy some of the most expensive electricity in the nation: 17.0 cents per kilowatt-hour on average, making it the seventh most expensive in the country. That’s an incredible 60 percent higher than the national average cost of just 10.6 cents. With costs that high, it’s not uncommon to see monthly energy costs that reach several hundred or even over one thousand dollars for residential customers.
If you’re looking to cut back on this expense every month, making a few changes throughout your home can have a huge impact on how much energy you’re using. And the best part: you can make some of these changes yourself by simply knowing what to look for and making a few minor adjustments on your own. Here is a self-audit checklist you can go through that could help you save a bundle each and every month.
Item 1: Air Leaks
Air leaks are a huge source of lost energy that virtually every homeowner has to deal with. When temperatures outside are sweltering hot, you want your conditioned air to stay indoors where it will keep you comfortable. However, air leaks prevent it from doing that. Through air leaks, hot air from outside gets in and heats up your home, while conditioned air escapes outside where it is lost forever.
Air leaks are frequently found in openings in your home, including doors and windows. We recommend doing a thorough inspection of your home’s various doors and windows and checking on the condition of the rubber or plastic weather stripping that is used to seal off their joints and cracks. If this stripping is old, brittle, and cracked, replace it. This small expense could save you a ton in the long run by helping your home stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
Item 2: HVAC System Performance
The next thing to look at is the performance of your HVAC system. Of all electricity-using devices in your home, nothing comes even close to matching the amount of energy consumed by your heating and cooling equipment. More than half of the energy that the average home uses in an entire year goes to HVAC purposes. So even a small change in this area can yield tremendous savings.
There are a few things you can do to make minor improvements to HVAC system performance. Changing your air filter when it gets dirty is one of them. Check your filter every month and replace it as necessary. You should also have your air conditioner and furnace properly maintained and tuned up at the start of your cooling and heating seasons, respectively. This will help you save energy and even enjoy a more comfortable home.
However, you should also take a look at the bigger picture for your HVAC system. If your system is more than 20 years old, it may be time to replace it soon, and you’re probably wasting a good amount of energy purely based on the fact that your system can’t run as efficiently as it did while it was brand new. Likewise, replacing an old 8 or 9 SEER system with an energy-efficient 14 or 16 SEER unit could save hundreds per year in energy costs!
Item 3: Water Heater Temperature
Your water heater is also a huge energy consumer. Water requires a lot of energy in order to increase in temperature, and that means refilling and reheating your water heater is going to go through a lot of electricity or natural gas (depending on what type of heater you have). However, one of the biggest reasons for energy waste is that you simply have your water temperature set too high. The higher the temperature is set, the more energy needs to be used to get the water to that temperature. And likewise, the sooner the heater will need to turn on again in order to bring it back up to temperature, as heat tends to be lost faster from tanks at higher temperatures.
On top of that, setting the temperature too high is also dangerous, as water at temperatures of 150 degrees Fahrenheit can cause third-degree burns with just two seconds of exposure. For this reason, we recommend setting your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees. You’ll save energy, save wear and tear on your water heater, and keep your home safer.
Item 4: Thermostats
Are you still using an old, mechanical thermostat or a simple digital unit that’s 15 to 20 years old or more? You’re missing out on a lot of the great new energy-efficient features that modern smart thermostats can offer. Upgrading to a smart thermostat usually only costs a few hundred dollars, and yet it can save you a ton of money by changing how your HVAC system works. These smarter brains are capable of making decisions using advanced algorithms, and give you flexibility features like total control from anywhere in the world. Making this simple change could pay for itself in the course of one cooling season!
Item 5: Attic Insulation
Finally, another huge source of heat intrusion in summer and loss in winter is through poor attic insulation. An uninsulated attic allows a lot of heat to be lost through cracks in ceilings or around light fixtures. Old insulation is not a whole lot better than no insulation, as it loses its ability to keep your temperature zones separated over time. Spray foam insulation is the best modern option for improved insulation, and it is possible to buy kits that allow you to install this yourself. However, we do recommend a professional installation for ideal coverage.
Looking to save money on energy costs? Let the team at All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical help you upgrade your home! Call us at (909) 253-0664 today to schedule an appointment.