Tips to save on your home energy bill

May 19, 2009 7:00:52 AM PDT
Most people can save money by cutting back on their energy consumption. How much? Your utility company can help you find out, for free.

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Jennifer Garcia is a stay-at-home mom with two young boys and a third baby on the way.

"We need to cut costs and tighten up the belt, so I wanted to know areas there we could go through our house and save money," said Jennifer Garcia, San Gabriel, California.

She invited her local utility out for a free energy audit. The first thing Stan Mueller notices is the old incandescent light bulbs.

"You can promote 75 percent energy savings by replacing these lights," said Stanley Mueller, Southern California Edison.

Which he did immediately because those lights also produce heat, making Jennifer's air conditioner work harder and air conditioning can account for 40 percent of your energy bill:

"Having your A-C tuned up every 2-3 years is a good idea," said Mueller.

He also recommends replacing the filters and sealing cracks under doors -- even tiny ones like this -- to keep the heat out and cold air in. Refrigerators are energy hogs. Cleaning the coils helps. And keeping it full means it doesn't have to work as hard to stay cool.

Here's a trick: take a dollar bill -- stick it in your freezer or refrigerator door. If it doesn't stay in place when you take your hand away, it means cold air is escaping and you need new seals.

Stan's colleague plugs a watt meter into Jennifer's new TV -- measuring how much it costs to run. "About $130 a year goes to just powering this TV, if it's used all the time," said Gene Rodrigues, Southern California Edison.

Following all the suggestions can save a customer like Jennifer as much as 30 percent on their energy bill.

"It's so easy. They come to your house, and they tell you ways to save money," said Garcia.

And who doesn't like that?

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