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Bills getting out of control?

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As a homeowner, you surely despise high energy bills. There are five major problems you should be aware of if you want to reduce your energy consumption. Most homeowners will face at least one of these problems, so you should be on the lookout for places where you can improve your energy usage and save some money. Let's allow some common questions and concerns to guide us:

1. "There are cold and hot spots in different areas of my home"

Do you have a room or area of your home that gets way colder in the winter than the others? What about hotter than the rest of the home in the summer time? It’s possible that those areas are simply poorly insulated. Every home is different but one thing all homes have in common is that if the insulation is not doing its job very effectively, not only will you be uncomfortable but your energy bill, whether it be for electric, gas or oil, will be much higher than it should be. Consider hiring a technician to use a thermal camera and show you exactly what the source of those cold/hot spots might be. You might find that there are air escapes that need to be sealed or that your current insulation is simply not as effective as you think it is because of aging, moisture, or simply inappropriate installation.

2. "The air conditioner seems like it’s always on!"

Unless you are trying to keep your food frozen without using your refrigerator, there is no reason why your air conditioner and compressor should always be on. One interesting possibility to consider is that your unit simply has to work harder than it should in order to blow the cold air it is supposed to release. One problem that is often ignored is the oil fouling that begins to form in the machine over time. Oil fouling will cause a loss of about 7% efficiency the first year, 5% the second year and 2% per year the following years with an efficiency degradation that will usually peak between 20 & 30%. In other words, your machine is working harder than it should as a consumer you pay for the effort your machine makes not for the result. To make sure you are good to go, have your air conditioner system serviced every six months to a year.

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3. "My home feels really humid"

Due to the cheaper materials being used for building homes in the past few decades, you might have a problem with attic ventilation. Be careful, poor airflow can cause mold and fungus. This cannot only ruin the wood in your attic and around your home, but it is also a major health hazard. Consider creating active ventilation by cleaning out the baffles and installing a couple of attic fans. These remove heat, moisture, dust and fiberglass particles keeping them away from your home and creating a fresh environment free from undue moisture and its consequences.

4. "Is it time to upgrade my bulbs?"

The short answer is: Yes. Especially if you have very old incandescent light bulbs, they give off most of their energy as heat, rather than light wasting a ton of electric power in the process. Upgrade your bulbs as soon as you can and beware of any “free” upgrades from your utility companies. One community realized that the free bulbs that the utility company was giving out were fluorescent lights. These were, of course, a slight upgrade but still used twice as much power as LED lights. Guessing free LED’s weren’t in that utility companies best interest.

5. "Am I paying too much for my utility company to bring me energy?"

Possibly. It would be wise for you to explore your options. If your home is a good fit for solar you can easily pay less for as much energy as your panels can produce. If it’s not a good fit for solar because of the shading, roof type or some of the other things that make solar technology not a great fit from time to time, then you might consider purchasing power at a lower rate from a third party company. You can also explore alternative rates with your current utility provider based on income or type of usage. Be sure to vet any agreements but there are certainly plenty of options. Of course one of the most important things to do is to not pay for energy that you are not using. Make sure to have a professional inspect your home for inefficiencies. One cent is one cent too many for any power that you aren’t benefitting from.

Be sure to have someone take a look soon. You never know, you might be able to cut down cost drastically. Good luck!

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