Cooling your electric bill in summer

Cooling your home in summer is heating up your electric bill. But for some homeowners, it is costing them as much as $200 to do it. The reason why? Their homes are not energy efficient.

To help reduce the heat on your bill, you need to conduct a home energy assessment. According the U.S. Department of energy, you could save as much as 30 percent a year off your electric bill with a few simple tests and projects.

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars for a professional to do it, you can do it in a matter of a few hours.

To begin, make a list of obvious air leaks. Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Among the places where air might be escaping is electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames and attic hatches.

When checking your windows, see if you can rattle them. If so, then it could mean a possible leak. If you see daylight around a door or window frame, then you know that particular area is where some of the air is escaping.

If you are having difficulty locating leaks, you may want to conduct a basic pressurization test.

First, close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.

Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.

Then turn on all exhaust fans or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.

You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to waver, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.

Outside your home, be sure to check all the caulking and weather stripping is in place and applied properly leaving no gaps or cracks.

Of course, one of the biggest problems is insulation. According to the Energy Department, when your house was built, the builder likely installed the amount of insulation recommended at that time. That means if your home was built back in the 1940s or 1950s, it likely is well below today’s standards.

Finally, be sure to check your air conditioner. Replace and clean your filters at least once a month.

If the unit is more than 15 years old, you should consider replacing your system with one of the newer, energy-efficient units.

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