Have you ever received an electric bill that made you wonder where on earth all that electricity (and money) is going? You're not alone -- most of us have the same issue. However, there's a lot you can control with this type of problem. The first step is by performing a home energy checkup.

Part 1


Free Home Walkthrough

The first way to do an energy audit of your home is by contacting the company that supplies your power. Most electric companies will come to your home and perform a free home walkthrough, in which they identify how you can save energy best, and thus save money. These walkthroughs normally check your windows and doors, insulation, heating and cooling systems, lighting and appliances, and your water heater. They'll give you some ideas on what you can do with each of these areas to cut costs.

If your electric facility doesn't do a walk-through, you can request a list of their rates. This rate list is usually accompanied by how much electricity each electrically powered item in your home uses, such as how much it cost to run a window a/c unit or big screen plasma television per hour or day. This checklist gives you a great idea of just how much power you're consuming once you've added it all up.


Conduct Your Own Walkthrough

You can also do your own walk-through to figure out where the electricity is going and see if you can put a stop to any waste. A home energy checkup should be done at least once a year, but if you have the time, it's even better to do it twice a year.


Here's what you'll want to look for:

Lighting Fixtures: Make sure that they all have compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Compared to regular incandescent bulbs, CFLs use one-fifth to one-third longer and last 8 to 15 times longer. 

Water Heater: Pipes on the water heater (hot and cold) should be covered with pipe insulation, and if it's an electric water heater, with a tank wrap.

Outlets: Use a smart strip. A smart strip helps reduce energy consumption and is sold with surge protectors.

Door and Windows: If there's a gap showing light around your doors that lead to the outside, get weather striping to fill it in. Check caulking on windows and recaulk if needed.

Vents: Check floor vents for cold air. Close them if they're not being used, and check them later for any holes that need to be patched in the duct work.

Heating & Cooling Systems: Make sure to change or clean any filters regularly. Also, have the units serviced yearly to prevent any issues and keep them running at their best. If the unit is outdoors, make sure any grass and other debris is clear of the unit.

Refrigerator: Once a year it's good to pull your refrigerator out and vacuum the coils behind it. If there's a drip tray below it, this is also a good time to empty it. Check the seals and gaskets on the door as well and replace if needed.


Tip: Additional ways to save money and electricity include installing energy star appliances, installing a ductless heating/cooling system if you have ceiling heat, using window a/c units, and shutting off appliances and electronics when you're done using them.

Whichever method you choose, walking through yourself or having someone else do it, you'll be sure to find a lot of ways your home can be improved in the energy area. After a few walkthroughs you'll be surprised in a good way when that next electric bill comes.


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