ROSIE ON THE HOUSE

Here are essential tips for saving your energy dollars

Apr 11, 2024, 3:00 PM

(Shuttershock Photo)...

(Shuttershock Photo)

(Shuttershock Photo)

Summer temperatures are looming and with them comes the highest utility bills for homeowners.

There are some simple activities you can undertake at your home to help save energy and money before the inevitable 100+ degree temperatures arrive.

Visual inspection of the insulation and weather stripping

You can look around your home and easily detect visible deficiencies.

While it takes special gear to determine the insulation coverage in your walls, you can look in your attic and see the thickness or depth of the insulation there. The U.S. Department of Energy has specific recommendations depending upon where you live. Check out the link above for more information. Generally, you want the attic insulation to be a minimum of 12 inches to 15 inches deep. If you have an older home that may have less than that, you might want to consider getting some more insulation.

You can also inspect the floor insulation in your crawl space if you have one. 6 inches to 9 inches is a minimum for this location.

NOTE: The proper amount of insulation, installed correctly, is critical. A whole bunch of insulation installed incorrectly will produce little to nothing in energy savings.

Inspect the fabric or rubber weather stripping around your doors and windows. Worn surfaces and gaps indicate where your energy dollars are escaping from.

Learn more about the value of a Home Energy Audit

Energy efficiency testing made easy.

Home audits are a great way to find out how your home is using energy. The blower test that’s performed to detect leak points and air flow balance is the professional route, however, you can do some testing on your own.

While your HVAC fan is turned on, stand outside your closed doors and windows and using your hand move around the edges and joints to feel any airflow.

We don’t recommend you do this, however, if you are careful, and the conditions are right, a lighter or candle flame held near the outside of the opening is an effective way to find where air is leaking from the home.

You can also turn your system off and feel for air leaks on the inside of those doors and windows. This may not be as effective, but it does make it easier to check. The basic principle is to have a negative or lower pressure on the side you are testing.

Identifying leak points will inform you where the fix is needed.

Thermal imaging guns are helpful as well! A thermal imaging gun can be purchased for under $100 and is an objective way to identify hot spots in your homes envelope.

The thermostat

The first way to check your thermostat’s accuracy is to determine if the room temperature being displayed is accurate by placing a thermometer close by and comparing the reading of the two. They should be the same or at least no more than a degree apart. If the temperature checks out, great!

Another tool the thermostat can provide is programing. Programming the thermostat to the desired temperature, in different rooms of your home at different times of day or night help to maximum comfort and efficiency. A programmable thermostat is a must if you are gone all day at work and nobody is home to set the heat a bit lower or the AC temperature a bit higher.

Programming can help you customize a home’s temperature for any cycling you want; while you are home and active, home and sleeping, or not at home at all. Using less energy to heat or cool when you don’t need it will save you dollars.

Know your best rates.

Each of the three largest suppliers of power in Arizona have various rates based on your home usage. Here are the three main utility companies and their links. Salt River Project or SRP, Arizona Public Service or APS, and Tucson Electric Power or TEP.

SRP
APS
TEP

By analyzing your bills, usually over a period of one year, your energy consumption can be evaluated and prompt several benefits. For one, understanding how you use your energy may help you identify and change some existing habits that will help reduce your energy consumption. You can also choose one of the many different rate plans your utility company has available to fit your needs.

With some planning and analysis, a desert dweller in Arizona should be able to live comfortably for $0.12 – $0.14 cents a kilowatt.

Super cooling

Buying your energy off-peak, which we call super cooling, can also save you a bundle. To supercool your home, turn your AC down as low as you can stand it (68-74 degrees) so you’re cooling your whole house down to the studs when energy is cheap. During on-peak hours, turn your AC up as high as you can stand it (78-85 degrees). This will allow your AC to shut off so you can save money and ride out the heat of the day with the cool air stored in your home while your air conditioning and other electric appliances rest.

By doing some of these simple tasks at home, you can find out a great deal about your next steps to save energy and dollars.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email info@rosieonthehouse.com. Follow us on X and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.

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Here are essential tips for saving your energy dollars