Summer is here, prompting many of us to adjust the air conditioning in our homes. However, dialing down the thermostat too much during the summer months can result in costly energy bills, and for many Kentuckians, every dollar saved can make a difference when trying to make ends meet.
As your Attorney General, I’ve worked hard to stop more than $1 billion in proposed rate increases by utility companies. There are also actions you can take as a consumer to cut down on utility costs not only this season, but year-round. By making a few minor adjustments to how your family uses energy in the home, you can save money on your bill and reduce your environmental impact as well.
Here is a list of five simple energy-saving tips my Office of Rate Intervention and I have put together to help you and your family beat the heat and cut costs this summer:
1. Conduct a home energy audit. Home energy audits pinpoint inefficiencies in your home’s heating and cooling system and building structure. Additionally, they help you determine what upgrades to your home will help save the most energy and have the fastest payback period. Tips on conducting your own energy audit can be found at http://energysavers.gov. If you choose to hire a professional auditor to assess how much energy is consumed in your home and where energy is lost, contact your local electric or natural gas provider to find an auditor in your area. You may also visit the Certified Rater Directory at http://www.resnet.us or the Kentucky Home Performance Program at http://kyhomeperformance.org.
2. Install a programmable thermostat. You can save as much as much as 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat up 10 to 15 percent for eight hours in the summer and dialing it down in the winter. You can do this automatically by installing a programmable thermostat. If you purchase a programmable thermostat, look for the “EnergyStar” label.
3. Install efficient lighting. Installing energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. An average household dedicates 11 percent of its energy budget to lighting. Using new lighting technologies can reduce lighting energy use in your home by 50 to 75 percent.
4. Replace outdated appliances with EnergyStar appliances or maximize the efficiency. EnergyStar appliances can cut energy bills by 15 to 30 percent, and incentives, rebates, and tax credits are available for homeowners purchasing appliances or making other energy-efficient upgrades to their homes. If not replacing, you can maximize energy savings by using current appliances more efficiently. For instance, run the dishwasher only when it is fully loaded and turn the heated-drying selection off. Also, consider cleaning the coils on the back of your refrigerator and make sure the door seals are airtight.
5. Turn off or use “sleep” mode to power down computers & home office equipment. By turning off your computer or switching to sleep mode when not in use, you can save energy and curtail unnecessary heat to reduce air-conditioning needs. You can diminish “phantom” energy loads by unplugging home office appliances. If you use a power strip, utilize the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance. Additionally, remember to unplug battery and mobile device chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.
My Office of Rate Intervention is committed to protecting Kentuckians from excessive utility rates of all kinds, serving as a watchdog for consumers in matters related to natural gas, water, sewer, electric, and telephone service. To learn more about my Office of Rate Intervention, visit ag.ky.gov/civil/rate.