The Cincinnati Board of REALTORS sent out this helpful information to all of its agents today and I wanted to pass it along to all of our readers.
The average U.S. household will pay $2,300 this year on residential energy costs, with heating accounting for almost 45% of that total, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit public policy group based in Washington, D.C.
Gas and electric costs are up from last year, the group says. Data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration shows that homes heated with natural gas will pay about $30 more compared to last winter, while those heating with electricity will pay about $80 more.
In Pennsylvania, for example, where about 55% of residents’ home energy bills are devoted to heating, costs for consumers using natural gas or electricity are projected to increase by about $90 and $125, respectively, compared with last winter’s.
To help consumers cut costs, the Alliance is sharing these tips:
- Turn down the thermostat. In America, lowering it by just 1 degree can reduce heating energy costs by up to 5%, between $35 and $70, depending on the fuel used to heat the home.
- Plug leaks. Gaps between windows and doors may be small, but they can collectively add up to big energy losses. Plugging these leaks with caulk or other materials is the first action home owners should take to combat high heating fuel costs. By sealing those leaks and installing proper insulation, especially in the attic and crawl spaces, American households can reduce home heating costs by up to $180-$340 per year, depending on the fuel used.
- Heat people and pets, not empty space. About 80% of space is usually not being used at any given time. Closing vents in unoccupied rooms and using small space heaters to heat occupied areas can save a significant amount of energy and money.
- Use a programmable thermostat. It costs about $100, but if used properly, it can save American households up to 10% on their home heating bills, up to $90-$170 a year.
- Set the hot water heater at 130 degrees. Use cold water when washing clothes to save more energy and reduce bills for water heating.
- Replace the four most used bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. American households can save about $135 over the lifetime of the bulbs.
- Look for the label. When choosing a new heating and cooling system, windows, or appliances, consumers should purchase models with the ENERGY STAR label.
- Save gas on the road. Vehicle fuel economy can be improved with a few simple measures: tuning the engine (4%), using the recommended grade of motor oil (1-2%), keeping tires properly inflated (up to 3%), curbing aggressive driving such as speeding and rapid acceleration and braking (10% on average, but possibly as much as 33%), and removing unnecessary weight from the trunk (2% per 100 pounds). Even better, carpool, take public transportation, ride a bike or walk to really rack up the savings.