HOUSTON – Household energy bills are increasing during this heat wave. One way to beat them down is to do an energy audit to see where your home is wasting energy.
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You can pay a few hundred euros for a professional energy audit. However, some energy suppliers, such as Reliant Energy, offer free home appraisals. Reliant showed us how you can do it yourself.
“It’s an infrared thermometer. I can take a temperature reading and I can say it’s 72.2 degrees right now and the thermostat is reading 71, so pretty accurate,” Reliant Energy’s Arcadio Padilla said.
An infrared thermometer, which you can buy for under $20, is one of the tools of an energy consultant like Arcadio Padilla.
He says ideally the air temperature coming out of your vents should be 15 to 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature coming in.
“Less than 10 degrees, something is wrong. Then you need to get someone to come out and look at your device,” Padilla said.
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Another great energy-saving tip, he says, is to close blinds and drapes, especially thermal drapes, to block out the sun’s heat.
The EPA says this can save up to 33% on your bill, and Padilla agrees.
That could mean up to $82 off a $250 bill. A ceiling fan starts as low as $30. Running it counter-clockwise can save you 4% to 8% on your bill. That’s up to $20 a month.
“It’s a lot cheaper to run a ceiling fan than an air conditioner,” he said.
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Padilla says don’t use the dishwasher’s hot drying cycle and don’t use the oven or tumble dryer during the hottest hours of the day.
“When you add heat and moisture during the hottest part of the day, it has a harder time for the air conditioner to remove that heat and moisture,” he said.
As a rule of thumb, Padilla says, aim to use one kWh of electricity per square foot of your home during the summer.
“If you’re using a kWh per foot, you’re doing pretty well. Less is even better,” said Padilla. “If you consume more, there is room for improvement.”
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You can call your energy supplier’s customer service to ask for a free audit.