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No matter the age of your home, it could benefit


from an energy audit. You can get started on your own to find low-cost solutions that can save money on your monthly electric bill. First, ask yourself a simple question: Does my


home feel drafty and cold in the winter, or stuffy and hot in the summer? If yes, then it probably experiences air leakage. To track down where those spots are, start with the usual suspects—like damaged seals around doors and windows. If you see daylight or feel air, apply caulk and weather stripping to keep outdoor air out and indoor air in. Don’t forget spots you might not immediately


think of, like recessed canister lights and electrical outlets. Outlet insulation kits can be purchased for as little as $2, and you can fix up your canister lights with some caulk around the edges. Also, look where walls meet the ceiling. Cobwebs mean you have drafts. Next, peek into the attic and inspect the


crawl space or basement for sufficient insulation. EnergySavers.gov recommends attics in our region have an R-value of R30 to R60. Keep in mind insulation won’t do its job well if you don’t have a proper air barrier working in tandem. Tat means all joints and cracks must be sealed between your living space and insulation. Finally, look to your light fixtures. Compact


fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are up to 75 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they have come a long way in light quality, design, and affordability. CFLs are available in a variety of shapes and hues. While they cost more upfront, the return on investment takes less than nine months, saving you money for that point forward. Make sure to purchase an ENERGY STAR-rated CFL guaranteeing the product meets specific energy efficiency criteria. ENERGY STAR- rated CFLs will typically last 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb producing the same amount of light.


Auditing Energy Small measures, real savings


by Magen Howard LEDs—light-emitting diodes—are the next


wave of residential lighting. An ENERGY STAR- rated model is estimated to use only a quarter of the electricity consumed by traditional bulbs and can last for 25 years. As with many new technologies, the up-front cost for an LED bulb is still much more than even a CFL, but prices are expected to drop as new products are developed. To learn more about ways to reduce your electric bill, visit EnergySavers.gov or TogetherWeSave.com.


Magen Howard writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service organization for the nation’s 900-plus consumer- owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Sources: EnergySavers.gov, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, EnergyStar.gov


How Americans Use Energy


New data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that heating and cooling still accounts for the largest amount of electricity consumption in American homes. But as we use more and more electronic gadgets, that segment is closing the gap.


34.6%


Appliances, electronics, and lighting


17.7% Water heating Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration News Magazine 15 47.7%


Space heating and cooling


Energy Efficiency


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