Get a Handle on Your Home's Energy Bills

Photo: Electric Meter.

In the past year, oil prices have gone up about 50%. While we notice this most at the gas pump, it also affects home heating oil and eventually, other forms of energy such as natural gas. This can be painful as the heating season approaches.

While many of us have done things in past years to cut energy usage, these new prices call for renewed efforts to save energy. A review of the basics can be a good start.

What are the biggest energy users in the home? Where do the greatest losses occur?

In most homes, heating, cooling and hot water account for most of the energy usage. Some simple things to do to make your heater more efficient include, for oil burners, getting a yearly tune-up that includes a cleaning. (Soot deposits in a heater block heat transfer, lowering its efficiency.) Furnaces should have their filters changes as needed. Gas-fired equipment should have a yearly checkup and safety check.

Hot water heaters can be fitted with an insulation wrap. Refrigerator heat exchangers, located behind or underneath the cabinet, should be cleaned regularly.

Energy losses are mostly concerned with heating and cooling, too. Air leakage is a big culprit. Block drafts! Caulking and weatherstripping are essential. Look for big air leaks, such as from fireplaces, attic entrances and windows. Weatherstripping or specialized products can help in these areas.

When buying new appliances, especially major ones, look for energy efficient models. A few extra dollars spent for energy efficiency can be repaid many time over during the life of the product.

For additional details on energy savings, contact your utility company. Most utility companies have good booklets on ways to save energy. Also view the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Fact Sheets below:

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences