INDIANAPOLIS – If you’re like most Americans, you can expect higher energy bills as you heat your home this winter.
Despite a recent drop in natural gas prices, 69% of Americans are still seeing the highest energy bills they’ve had in years. According to a survey from HOP Energy, the average electric bill in the Midwest is $180. One-third of Americans say they are struggling to keep up with utility bills.
That same survey asked customers for their best energy-saving tips. They included using energy-efficient light bulbs, doing laundry in cold water, and unplugging devices when they’re not in use.
It’s also good to remember to reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to push warm air down, open blinds to let in warmth from sunlight, and put on some long sleeves and drop your thermostat a couple of degrees.
If you’ve been in your home for a while, it might be a good time for a home energy check-up to see how efficient your home is. The U.S. Department of Energy offers thousands of dollars in tax credits for making energy efficiency improvements in your home. For the best results, the Department of Energy recommends hiring a professional to perform a home energy audit. The assessor will go all around your home, inside and out, using things like infrared cameras, leak detectors and smoke pens to see where your home is losing warm and cool air as well as ambient heat.
For example, if you tend to have a lot of icicles hanging off your home when it’s snowy, that probably means you’re losing a lot of heat through your roof and could use an insulation upgrade. The heat escaping through the roof is melting the snow, which freezes to form icicles as it drips off the side of the roof.
An energy auditor will also inspect the holes where electrical lines pass the flooring in your attic. If they’re not sealed, they’re leaking.
It’s also possible to do your own energy assessment. The Department of Energy has a list of items on its website to check in your home. According to the IRS, if you make qualified improvements to your home, you can earn a tax credit of up to $3,200.