Do you feel like your electric bill is outrageous??
We kind of did.
So I called Huntsville Utilities and asked for an explanation as to why our reading was that high.
We only turn lights on if absolutely necessary, utilizing every last drop of sunshine our large windows can hold.
Our thermostat is set at a brisk 61 degrees in the winter, using our fireplace to heat up the house.
What other extremes could we explore?
"We offer free energy audits for all of our customers," the kind HSV Utilities employee responded.
Sign. Me. Up.
A couple of days later, Brad (the energy audit man) walked around our house with me, pointing out areas where we could do a little handiwork while saving a lot.
Do we recommend this program? Absolutely. It's free and Brad printed out a full-blown Energy Audit Report that explained areas where most cold / warm air is lost and how we can improve those areas for better energy usage. The report also includes an estimated cost of repairs along with a Quality Program Participant List if we choose to hire someone to fix the problems.
I normally feel obligated to working with a company if they come out to give us an estimate or to evaluate an issue at our house. But there is no obligation in working with the utility company as a contractor... because it's not a contractor. They aren't the ones who will be doing any of the work required to make our house keep more energy efficient. This also makes their evaluations more trustworthy.
Fortunately, we will be able to DIY most of the stuff from our report. For those of you who may not have this free service offered through your utility company, here is a list of things that Brad recommended we do...
Also, please remember that our house was built in 1965. There are a few issues that stem from the age of the home.
- Spray expansion foam around pluming openings under the sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms
- Glaze single pane windows around the panes and caulk all windows at the edges to prevent air and moisture from coming in
- Ensure all of the doors leading to the outside of the home are actual exterior doors and not interior doors
- Exterior doors should be sealed on the sides, top, and bottom to prevent air and moisture from coming in (jamb-up weatherstripping and thresholds with vinyl bulbs are recommended for sealing existing doors)
- Attic access doors and pull down stairs should be insulated and weatherstripped if located within conditioned areas
- Make sure your HVAC system is serviced annually if more than ten years old, and on a two to three year basis for systems less than then years oldMaintenance should always include cleaning the coils and an inspection of the condensate drain and overflow system.
- Check for places where air may be penetrating your house and either caulk the openings or add a foam seal where you find the problemThis may include exterior / interior wall receptacles, outside walls at floor, wiring openings, fireplace damper, and / or light fixtures.
Needless to say, we have a lot of weatherstripping to put up, pipes to warm with foam sealant and cracks to caulk.
If you would like a free energy audit from HSV Utilities, call the number from the website and ask the operator to connect you with the energy department. They'll be able to help you from there. Good luck!
Postscript: There tend to be many frustrations with utility companies but I have been incredibly impressed with the immediacy of HSV Util. to solve the problems we've had so far. We owe about 98% of this post to Huntsville Utilities and give them the credit for it. We wouldn't have any of this information if it wasn't for their guidance and service. Thank you, HSV Utilities for going above and beyond.