Simple ways to save on your energy bills - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/24/10

Simple ways to save on your energy bills

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By Brittany Pieper - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Kendra Mell usually spends about $200 a month on her gas and electric bills, but like anyone, she'd like to see that payment go down. So NewsChannel 11 brought Tod Towns from Armstrong Mechanical in Lubbock to her home to see if he could give her any pointers.

One way to save is to turn down the temperature on your water heater.

"Most of them are at about 135-140 degrees.  If you set it at about 120, where everybody really ought to have it anyway, that's going to save probably 5-10% a month just on your overall gas bill," said Towns.  He added you could wrap your water heater with an insulation blanket.

You can also save by making sure you change your air filter every 3 months.

In the living room, towns noticed the programmable thermostat.

"You can save quite a bit of energy by setting it up to where it'll set back when you're gone," said Towns. He says you could save about 6% off your bill by lowering the temperature 2 degrees. 

Towns also noticed the Mell's don't use the most efficient light bulbs, and he recommends as they replace them to buy compact fluorescent bulbs. "They use 75 % less electricity, and they last 8 to 12 times longer," he said. 

Don't close vents, even if you don't use the room they're in.

"It needs that pathway, that delivery system, to get the air into the house. It's actually going to lower the efficiency by shutting the vents off," he said. 

In the attic, Towns suggested adding insulation. Most older homes, like the Mell's, only have a bout 6 inches.  New homes have 13 to 14. Home owners can either hire someone to add more, or buy an insulation mat. "The thicker that barrier is, the easier it is to heat and cool your home," said Towns. 

Finally, we moved to the kitchen. He noticed many people leave appliances like toasters and cell phone chargers plugged in when they're not using them. Unplug them to save.

A big energy cost is the refrigerator. It has to run all the time, and uses about 20% of your home's energy each month. However, you can set it to make it more efficient. Towns suggests using a thermometer to make sure your fridge is 37 degrees, and your freezer is 3 degrees.

"That's kind of the ultimate efficiency," said Towns. Mell's freezer was set too low, so he adjusted it for her. "The refrigerator, I was kind of surprised about," said Mell. 

If she follows all of his suggestions, Towns estimates she could save about $30 to %50 a month. "Between gas and electricity, maybe 15-20%, and that's just keeping the existing appliances that she has," said Towns. 

"If we can save $30 a month, I'll be happy," said Mell. 

Towns also said double or triple pain windows can help lower your heating and cooling bill if you're building a new home, but it's expensive to replace windows in an existing one.

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