Tips to cutting energy bills for retirees
Mar 23, 2012, 6 a.m.
When you are working and earning big dollars, a high electric bill is an annoyance. For retirees, however, a lower electricity bill can mean the difference between dining on hot dogs or filet mignon. The combination of escalating gasoline, heating oil and electricity prices can blow up a retiree's household budget.
There are ways, however, to lower electricity bills and other energy costs. Homeowners of all ages question the wisdom of fighting a high electric bill and/or other distressing energy costs. Fear not. Here are some simple, low-cost tips to enjoy a lower electricity bill.
Install more insulation. Only one in five homes built prior to 1980 have sufficient insulation. In the 1960s and 1970s (remember?), energy was cheap. Many homes even used electric heat, with thin wires in all walls and floors, to keep their castle toasty and enjoy a lower electricity bill. Today, if your home has insufficient insulation, it can generate an astronomically high electric bill as your heating and air conditioning systems work harder just to maintain the temperature you want.
Seal wall openings. Statistically, around 15 percent of air leakage issues involve wall openings. Homeowners can easily -- and cheaply -- use spray foam sealant (around $4 per can) around outdoor faucets, wiring and any other suspected wall opening. Installing foam gaskets (about $3 for 10) around indoor electric outlets and light switches eliminates most leaking air through walls. You can save up to $150 per year.
Re-caulk or weather-strip all windows and doors. Even properly installed windows and doors can create a high electric bill or increased heating/air conditioning expenses. A $5 tube of water-based acrylic caulk and low cost weather stripping can save you up to $200 per year.
Install a programmable thermostat. Heat or cool your home to the temperature you want, when you want by spending $45 to $100 and save up to $200 per year. Easy to install (only two wires to attach), these wonderful items can achieve a lower electricity bill by 20 percent for heating and cooling.
Seal and wrap your ductwork. Did you know that you lose up to 30 percent of air from your furnace or air conditioner through your ductwork? Sealing and wrapping ductwork with HVAC insulation could save you up to $400 a year.
According to the AARP, these and some other low cost tips can reduce that high electric bill to a manageable level for retirees on a tight budget.
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