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How to save money on energy in your home

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HARTFORD - Home design, realtor and improvement expert, Sabine Schoenberg joined the Fox CT Morning Extra with tips on saving money for your home.

Connecticut households have some of the highest energy costs in the country.

Many blame the inefficiency on our big, old homes, but there are ways to lower your utility bills.

Audit your energy provider. Deregulation has opened up the field for more energy providers, but many of them use low introductory rates or partner with your airline loyalty point programs to lure in new customers. Months later, they slowly raise prices to a point you might be paying higher than the market average.  Fortunately, Connecticut is the first state to pass legislation forbidding this type of variable pricing.  But it’s still a good time to check how your current provider stacks up against others. While it doesn’t cover every state, www.chooseenergy.com is a good place to see how provider rates compare and www.chooseenergy.com/CT compares the plans of Connecticut power suppliers.

 

Get the Heat Out of Your Attic. To get rid of trapped heat in your attic, consider a solar attic ventilation fan. A tremendous amount of heat builds up under the roof and in your top floors and attic fans are actually far more efficient in cooling down the house than window fans are. The best part is a solar powered attic ventilation fan will cost no money to run, are easy to install and gets the heat out while bringing cooler evening air in.  By maintaining a cool attic you’re actually extending the life of your roof and any items you store there. Plus, there’s generally a tax deduction for installing one - and local utility carriers may offer rebates or other installation incentives. US Sunlight has great, economical models.

Solar Attic Fan: $200 to $400 depending on the wattage

 

Replace Window Treatments with Shades that Keep the Heat Out. Beating the heat in the summer is vital – especially when it comes to cutting energy costs. A great and overlooked way to beat the heat is by adding shades to your windows.  Crystal View Solar Shades from North Solar Shades even have transparent shades so you can see through them and take the heat out of those sun rays. These economical shades not only keep out solar heat by 74%, they also stop UV and its fading effects on interior furnishings. In the winter, they keep rooms warmer by 24%.

Solar Shades: $50 -$100 per shade

 

Replace traditional heat-generating bulbs with LED lighting. Traditional incandescent and halogen light bulbs produce heat and uses more energy.   In fact, incandescent bulbs expend about 90% of the energy they consume as heat!  Not only is this wasting you energy, it’s actually serving to heat up your house, making the air conditioner work that much harder.  LED lighting is bright, takes less energy to run, and burns cool.  Switch over what bulbs you can and rely on fluorescent lighting where LED bulbs aren’t practical.

LED Bulbs: $5-$20 – higher than regular bulbs but they can last for years

 

Upgrade to smart thermostats. These thermostats not only let you program in your desired temperature point, they let you monitor the temperature in the house from your smartphone - allowing you to make adjustments while on the go. Nest or Honeywell’s Wi-Fi Smart models seem to work best.

Smart Thermostat: $150-$300

 

Use a “smarter” air conditioner. Smart air conditioners, like the Aros smart air conditioner, take the smart thermostat logic a step further: the Aros monitors your cell phone’s GPS to determine when you are on your way home, and then cools the house before you get there.

Smart air-conditioner: run between $ 200 to $300  (depending on level of power)

 

Upgrade your kitchen appliances.  The newer appliances are extremely energy efficient, but one kind of stove top hasn’t yet caught on: The induction cooktop. This type of cooktop uses magnetic heat process - so unlike a traditional open gas or electric stove top, heat isn’t being actively emitted to the household – the heat is restricted directly between the stove top and cooking surface. The US Department of energy estimates induction cooking will save 12% over cooking by traditional electric/gas stove methods.

Induction Cooktop – portable $200, Built-in: $1000

 

Replace energy-draining HVAC equipment. We all know how expensive central air conditioning bills can be. But if it’s been more than ten years since your system was installed, you should consider swapping it out for the new line HVAC compressors. Today’s units – much like the new HE (High Efficiency) washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and other appliances, will expend less energy – and keep bills lower in the long run.