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10 Ways to Reduce your Energy Bill

While solar electricity is a great way to reduce your energy bill and increase our energy independence, it is still a relatively expensive technology. We urge our customers to first concentrate on reducing their energy footprint. Dollars spent on energy usage reduction currently have a greater and more immediate return-on-investment than solar-generated electricity. We recommend our customers have an “energy audit” of their home or business, to show you ways to reduce your energy footprint (we provide this service in the San Antonio area.) We also recommend the following methods to reduce your energy costs:

1. Insulate your home

Make sure you have adequate insulation in your exterior walls, attic, and basements. If you already have insulation in your attic, consider adding an additional layer. Some older homes (like from the 1960s and earlier) did not originally have insulation in their walls. If you can’t remove your wall covering (drywall, plaster, etc.), consider having a contractor spray expanding foam insulation into the walls through a small opening. Spray foam can also be utilized in attics and underneath pier-and-beam homes. We offer Spray Foam Insulation services in many locations. Contact us for more information.

2. Install double-pane insulated windows

If you don’t have these kinds of windows, it may be worth looking into replacing your older single-pane windows with efficient double-pane windows. Low-e coatings reduce solar gain if you have excess heating of the home by the sun. Vinyl double-pane windows conduct less cold and heat from outside than aluminum framing, and typically are Energy Star rated.

3. Replace your old water heater

If your water heater is 10 years old or older, consider replacing it with a new water heater. Today’s water heaters are required by federal guidelines to have better insulating properties. Plus, if you have not replaced the anode rod in your water heater in 10 or more years (a special rod that sacrifices itself to the rusting chemicals in water to protect the tank), it may be time to replace the water heater before the tank starts to rust and leak. (Replacing your anode rod is recommended sooner than 10 years. Check with your local licensed plumber for specific recommendations.)

4. Replace your old appliances

Many appliances, such as your refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher, are now much more energy efficient than they were 10 years ago. Look for the Energy Star designation for the most energy efficient appliances. Replacing these old appliances could save you 50% or more of the energy used to run the old appliance. Newer front-loading washing machines also use less water and your clothes come out cleaner. Some of these appliances qualify for a rebate from your local utility.

5. Install fluorescent lighting

This is an easy way to save on the energy cost to light your home. Compact Fluorescent bulbs have come way down in price and can be purchased in multipacks, saving even more. They use ¼ of the electricity of an old incandescent bulb, and last up to 7 years. They produce much less heat, which also brings down your cooling costs.

6. Ensure your attic breathes

If you have a conventional attic in your home or business, and you live in the southern states, your attic can get pretty hot in the summertime. This heat transfers into your home. Proper ventilation of your attic brings in cooler outside air and replaces the hot air built up in the attic. Many homes have been built with inadequate ventilation in their attic space. Consider improving your attic’s ventilation with a ridge vent. This type of venting can be retrofitted on existing roof ridges, and utilizes negative air pressure from wind to draw out hot air. Also, natural convection also forces hot air through the uppermost opening of the roof, a ridge vent. Another method is solar-powered roof vents. These can be easily installed by your local roofer and can replace standard non-powered vents installed on most homes. This active method of ventilation pulls the hot air out of your attic. New cooler air comes in via soffit vents in your roof overhangs. We offer solar-powered ridge vents in three different sizes to service any size attic.

7. Shade your AC unit

If you live in a southern climate, you rely on your air conditioner to keep your home cool and comfortable when the temperature outside is 90+ degrees. You can help your outside AC compressor by providing shading from the hot midday and afternoon sun. Consider planting a tall-growing bush by the outside AC unit where the sun hits. Be sure to allow space between the bush and the AC unit for air circulation and to service the unit.

8. Replace your AC system

If you live in a southern climate, and have an air conditioning system that is 10 years old or older, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient unit. Older units may have a rating of 8 or 9 SEER, and newer units are at least 13 SEER or more. If you can’t afford to replace both the inside and the outside unit, consider replacing at least the outside unit, the compressor, which accounts for the bulk of the cooling costs. New compressor units will remove heat more efficiently than your older unit. Consult your air conditioning professional for advice on replacing your AC unit. And, while you are at it, install a programmable thermostat and lower AC and heater usage while the home or business is unoccupied (just don't forget about your pets!)

9. Install ceiling fans

If you live in a warmer climate, make use of ceiling fans in your rooms, particularly your bedrooms and living room. Ceiling fans move the air and make you feel several degrees cooler, which allows you to turn up your thermostat. They can also be reversed in the wintertime to move the warmer air near the ceiling down.

10. Install a solar water heater

If you have electric water heating, you could save a significant amount on you water heating costs by installing a solar water heater on your roof. Solar water heating is very efficient, and may be able to completely offset your water heating costs. They even work on cloudy days, although less water heating occurs. We recommend a “Retrofit Kit” if you already have a water heater. We sell solar water heating systems. But, we strongly recommend installation by a qualified installer, such as a licensed plumber. Building permits may be required. Contact us for a water heating analysis and free quote.