Local experts say there are a variety of ways to make your home more energy efficientAmy Thornley As the weather turns colder, Cincinnati-area homeowners may want to take a closer look at their energy efficiency. In most homes the two largest sources of energy are the very things that keep us warm—the HVAC system and water heater.
The Department of Energy estimates that the average homeowner devotes 48 percent of their energy costs to heating and cooling their home throughout the year. A home’s water heater accounts for another 14-18 percent of your energy bill, according to the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. These two utilities together can make up two-thirds of a household’s energy expenditures.
And those expenditures are expected to go up. A report published jointly by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the University of Cincinnati Economics Center cautions consumers that becoming more efficient may ultimately be beneficial for your pocketbook. According to this report, the average price of electricity is expected to increase by 54.4 percent by the year 2030, and the average price of natural gas is expected to increase by 19.2 percent in this same time period. These increases are expected as the result of building and maintaining the infrastructure of our continually growing population.
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is ready to help local homeowners get more energy efficient. Residents can complete a free home energy assessment on their website and receive tips for reducing their energy costs targeted to their own home. Many of these tips are low-cost and designed to be easy and manageable for homeowners.
For instance, insulating a water heater that is warm to the touch can cut standby heat losses by 25-45 percent and save money. GCAE experts recommend an approved water heater blanket, and setting the water heater temperature to 120°. Regarding your home’s heating, regular maintenance and a programmable thermostat are a homeowner’s best bets. A programmable thermostat using four temperature settings throughout the day can save up to $180 each year in energy costs. This winter, try allowing your house to get cooler during working and sleeping hours.
For those homeowners ready to take a more decisive step towards energy efficiency, the City of Cincinnati would like to help. Residents can receive up to $1,500 from the city to offset the costs of energy efficiency improvements on their home. This program is available through a partnership with the GCEA and the improvements must be completed by a GCEA participating contractor. The first step is completing an in-person Home Energy Assessment with the GCEA. Homeowners can call 513-621-4232 or visit their website at greatercea.org to find out more.