When we got our first electric bill after moving into our '70s landing pad, I nearly came out of my chair. It was $300. Now, we did expect our electric bill to be more here than at our last house because it's a bigger house, but $300 just blew me away. When we got another $300 electric bill the following month, I decided something might be off.
To see if there was anything we could do to lower our energy use, we signed up for the eScore program, which sent an energy professional out to our home to do an energy audit. These were the three biggest things he said to fix.
Insulation is the biggest factor in reducing your energy use. We had very little insulation in our attic. There was hardly enough to keep any heat or cool air in the house at all. After having the insulation in our attic brought up to an R38 value and doing air sealing, we saw a huge difference in our electric bill and the temperature fluctuating less in the house.
If you've already got plenty of insulation, look at the weatherstripping around your exterior doors. Hold your hand up to the sides of the door, and if you feel any air coming in, you probably need to replace the weatherstripping there or add some if there is none.
We knew our windows were in bad shape at the new house. On one side of the house, we have wooden single-pane windows, and on the back, we have aluminum single-pane windows. Following insulation, the energy expert said our windows would be the next priority on the list. We are currently in the midst of getting estimates for new windows. In the meantime, we have done a few things to decrease the energy loss through the current windows by installing blinds and hanging heavy, light-blocking curtains. We’ve also caulked and sealed around the windows as needed.
Central heat and air units
We also knew that our HVAC units were old and need to be replaced. The energy expert agreed, but he said he would replace the windows first and then address the units. Of course, if one of the units were to go out, it would become a top priority. We are currently using these methods to prolong the life our HVAC units.
What have you done to reduce your electric bills?
Jenna LaFevor rants on at Rain on a Tin Roof about DIY projects, junk décor, thrifty finds, crafty creations and other decorating dilemmas. She went to UTC, where she got a teaching degree that now collects dust. When she isn’t trying to keep her kid from climbing out of the circus ring or making sure her husband’s shirts are taken to the dry cleaners so she gets out of ironing, she can be found with a paintbrush in one hand and a cheap beer in the other. But if you’re buying, she’ll have a cosmopolitan. You can email her at email@example.com or you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @raintinroofblog or at her blog. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.