In Jan. 7 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Cold arctic air has settled into the Lake Cumberland area and local electric company officials are reminding customers that the cold can raise electric bills and proper steps need to be taken to ensure your home is using the energy to its fullest potential.
Central heat and air units, most usually a home's biggest strain on electric bills, run much harder and longer during the winter months in an effort to warm a home. In most homes, these units can account for more than 50 percent of an electric bill, according to energy usage statistics.
Lowering the inside temperature of your home just one degree can save as much as three percent on your electric bill, experts say.
Emily Peercy, associate public relations specialist for E.ON U.S and Kentucky Utilities, and David Withers, energy adviser for South Kentucky RECC, both agreed the first step is to find out where your home uses the most energy.
Both officials pointed out that each have a residential energy audit that can locate those areas and offer suggestions on the most cost-effective ways to save more money.
Peercy said Kentucky Utilities allows customers to perform their own self-serve audit or schedule an on-site audit with one of their professionals. Withers said SKRECC does the same.
In the audit, customers benefit from the same detailed information outlining your home's energy usage, a list of energy-saving measures appropriate for one's home and the estimated cost to apply those measures.
Both of the local electric companies also offer other various energy efficiency programs that can help to lower your electric bill.
To set up an on-site audit or learn about these other programs, customers can call either company or visit them online at their respective Web sites.
Withers also warned that space heaters are energy hogs. For example, a typical portable electric space heater consumes anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 watts per hour. That, Withers said, adds up quickly.
He said a high efficiency heat pump is a great investment and one that save money and help heat your home more efficiently for years to come.
Peercy offered several tips for energy consumers to follow as the cold weather bears down on the area.
Some of these energy tips are as follows:
o Close external leaks. Mail chutes, water faucets and the spot around the dryer vent could all be sending heat and dollars outside. Be sure to secure the obvious openings.
o Inspect your house for hidden openings. Have a friend stand outside and shine a high-powered flashlight around the exterior. Any light leaks you see inside translate to heat leaks that should be sealed. The process may look strange, but it'll save you money.
o Lock your windows. Locking your windows helps keep intruders from getting in and it's also the best way to ensure a tight seal to prevent heat from getting out.
o If the putty in your windows is dry and cracked, add newer sealant. Seal any visible cracks with the weather stripping or cloth. Newspapers will do if you are on a tight budget.
o Look for drafts anywhere different materials meet, like walls, foundations, wood, bricks, chimneys, and siding.
o Turn off lights in rooms no one is in.
o Even closed doors can allow plenty of heat loss. If there's a gap, roll up a small rug and place it across the bottom of the doorway.
o A drafty window near your thermostat is a major problem. Cold air blowing near the temperature sensor can turn your heat system on unnecessarily.
o An unused room can be a waste of heat and money. Close the vents and registers in unused rooms, but be careful about rooms with water pipes passing under them. They could freeze if the temperatures dip too low.
o Unless you are burning wood, keep your fireplace damper closed. An open damper invites about 8 percent of your furnace's heated air up the chimney.
o Heat escape often occurs at the highest and lowest levels of your home. Heat rises to your attic and so will your heating bill if you ignore the leaks. A simple seal around the trap door can translate into big savings.
o A service professional should do an annual check up on your heating system. It can be tweaked to avoid any sluggishness. Also ask them about a steady state efficiency test, so you know it's running smoothly and safely.
o Use a sweater and an extra blanket and set the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. This is a proven way to save hundreds of dollars, but you must be consistent.
o Increase your perception of warmth by adding a furnace humidifier. Sixty-eight degrees with moisture can feel warmer than a dry home at 72 degrees.