What improvements will help me save on my electric bill?

Take the little steps in your home that can make a big difference in your electric bill.
There are several energy-efficient changes you can make at home to bring down your electric bills.

Are you keeping the heat hot?

The key culprit behind jaw-dropping winter electric bills is heating your home. Obviously. But did you know that an old, inefficient furnace may keep your heating bills on the rise each year? If you have a furnace that's more than 20 years old, you should definitely consider replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient one. Unless, of course, you like paying high prices for working antiques. You'll find that Energy Star-rated furnaces provide even better heat than your old one at a much cheaper price.

Other things you can do to help your furnace keep running in tip-top shape include keeping your filters clean, closing off rooms that aren't in use, and preventing your registers from getting blocked.

Are your windows and doors properly insulated?

The best way to keep your home running more efficiently on the inside is by starting on the outside. Most likely, there is already insulation in the outer walls of your home, but there could be areas where time has taken a toll on the insulation and it could use a little improving. There are ways to go about this without going through costly major renovations, too. And what about your attic or basement? Yup, you could even be losing all kinds of heat there and not even know it-but you have an easy remedy with spray insulation.

"But hey, at least I keep my windows and doors closed," you say. Pffssh. You don't even want to know how much heat you're losing if you have older windows and doors. When the wind blows, do you feel a draft? Does the glass rattle? Do your doors howl and hum? That's because the weather sealants have all but disappeared. Not only are newer, Energy Star-rated windows and doors better sealed, they offer better insulation to keep the interior temperature of your home at a much more constant level. You could try re-sealing your windows and doors, but that's about as effective as putting new horseshoes on a dead mule.

Is your water heater an energy tank?

When it's bath time at the house, does second-in-line get a good chilly dose of Alaskan rain? Then it's probably time to replace the water heater. In fact, water heaters are typically only intended to last up to 15 years, tops. The older a water heater is, the more sediment buildup there is and the less efficiently it runs. Think of it this way: let's say you have a 10-year-old, 40-gallon tank. It's possible that a third of that capacity could be taken up by sediment, which means the water heater has to work harder to get the water hot. It also has to work harder to keep the water hot because there's so little of it.

Again, newer is better. Replacing your water heater with a newer, energy-efficient model can result in a huge decrease in energy spending. You can even invest in a water heater insulation sleeve, which can prevent up to 40% of heat from escaping. Plus, there's a whole new world of tankless water heaters out there that produce hot water on demand and save you even more. Well, it's not really a "new" world because they've been used in Europe for years. But that's a different lesson.

Are you managing your temperature?

The easiest way to proactively keep tabs on your home's temperature is by making sure you have a programmable thermostat. Think of it as an easy 15% savings on your heating bill. With a programmable thermostat, you can have your system automatically turn off when you're not there-or at least way down, but still comfy for Spots. And out of all the things you can do to save on your electric bill, this is probably the simplest. Press a couple buttons, and you're done.

Need a good electrician to help you make some home improvements to your electrical system? You can find reliable, certified electricians on Kudzu.com today.

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