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Everybody Cares About His or Her Utility Bill, Right?


Te answer is “yes.” We all relate


to our own comfort and utility bill. It's understandable and helping you achieve a comfortable home with a reasonable electric bill is what this column is about. However, we sometimes confuse


our electric bill with merely heating and cooling costs. Tis most often happens when the bill is received just after a hot summer or cold winter month. When I have questions about the comfort of a house, it usually involves the energy efficiency of the house and/or the heating and cooling system. But let me remind you that your


electric bill includes more than just the costs associated with heating and cooling. It includes kilowatts used for lighting (the winter season requires additional hours of lighting), usage from appliances, water heating, chargers for phones and iPads, as well as power for the many other electronic gadgets in the home today. Plus, there are customer charges, fuel adjustments and taxes. What most do not know is


how many kilowatts are being used inefficiently. I received a call from a fellow who built his home to Doug Rye energy efficiency standards, including a geothermal system for heating and cooling.


He is a successful businessman, blessed to have been able to build a very nice home. However, he was shocked at his high summer electric


bills. Upon arrival, I drove through a secured access and up a long driveway to the top of the mountain where I saw a beautiful large home. Parking next to a water fountain, I noticed the outdoor landscape lights were on–during the day. You can see where this story is going, can’t you?


Heating, cooling, and water heating account for 70 percent of


energy costs. The other 30 percent involves lifestyle choices.


Te building envelope of the


house was actually very efficient and the geothermal system was performing beautifully. However, the fountain at the entry and the waterfall at the backyard swimming pool ran 24/7. Next to the pool was an outdoor kitchen where a refrigerator sat in the sun near a big screen TV. Tere were Casablanca type ceiling fans, extra freezers in the garage, and several televisions. Our comprehensive audit


revealed all the energy efficiency items were working just fine, but the embellishments–the bells and whistles–were costing him dearly to operate (50 percent of his total utility bill) and were inefficient. A similar call came from a lady who also lives in a new home built


to my specifications. Her summer electric bills were also higher than expected, but I concluded her bills would be just right if she would 1) disconnect the circulating hot water system that was adding heat to the house in the summer and causing the water heater to run continuously, and 2) unplug the two old freezers in the garage. Heating, cooling and water


heating together account for about 70 percent of energy use in an average house. While I can give good advice on how to help control those costs, much of the other 30 percent involves lifestyle choices. Having a professional perform an energy audit on your home will tell you where you can improve your efficiency and how you can save money. If you have received an audit


using a blower door test, you probably have some interesting stories to tell. I would like to hear some of those stories. You can tell me by calling my office at 501-653- 7931.


Did you notice I used the term


“building envelope?” I will discuss that term in detail next month.


Doug Rye, a licensed architect living in


Saline County and the popular host of the “Home Remedies” radio show, works as a consultant for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas to promote energy efficiency to cooperative members statewide. To ask energy efficiency-related questions, call Doug at 501-653-7931. More energy-efficiency tips, as well as Doug’s columns, can also be found at www.SmartEnergyTips.org.


News Magazine 35


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