ENERGY SAVINGS: Home Check Provides Incentives

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You may have noticed a higher utility bill this month after several bitterly cold days in December and January. You can take a few steps to cut costs on your energy bill.

Signing up for a HomeCheck was a pretty easy decision for Joe Stopulos. He says, "We just moved in here this summer, and we know we're going to be here a while, and my wife had been hearing all about the MidAmerican energy audit." He goes on to say, "We decided it would be a great way to start, as we're going to be living here a while, to figure out any problems we may have and how to save money in the long term."

MidAmercian Energy Company offers a free home check for any heating costumer with a house built before January 1, 2004. A professional like Cory Amos with A-Tec Energy will come to your home. Amos says, "We're going to check insulation systems, just how little small areas of the home can be more efficient."

He starts in the basement, checking the efficiency of the furnace. He recommends it be 95 percent efficient. Next, he looks at the home's biggest energy drainer, refrigerators and freezers, and says to keep those appliances full. He says, "It will kick on more often to cool that space, so to save on your electric, you want to occupy it. If there is space, throw in jugs of water."

Amos also takes a look at the attic, which could be the place wasting the most money in your home. He says, "Add some insulation to your attic."

MidAmerican Energy recommends 18 inches of blown fiberglass insulation. And, the company will offer you a 75% rebate up to $1,000. MidAmerican Energy Spokesperson Abby Bottenfield says, "You could save up to 10% annually on your utility bill, just from implementing insulation."

HomeCheck participants will also get a few freebies after the energy audit, including several that are new this year. Amos tells the homeowner, "I'm leaving you with a smart strip today, and they're used for your T.V. Plug it into the main monitor spot on your smart strip, bundle the rest of the stuff connected to your T.V. So that way when you turn your T.V. Off, it will stop what's being pulled."

Amos also replaces incandescent bulbs with energy efficient CFL’s and LED’s. And he'll install a programmable thermostat, all for free. As for setting the thermostat, he says, "We recommend 68 in the winter time, fluctuate down to 63.” He goes on to say, “If you turn your thermostat down a bit for 8 hours a day for 5 degrees, you could save 10 percent."

Stupolus says he'll follow the recommendations, and hopefully save some green on the next bill. He says, "The light bulbs, we have a ton of light bulbs that are not energy saving. Power strips, unplugging different things I didn't know we're using energy. And, then we're going to need to put more insulation in our attic."

You can sign up for a HomeCheck at 800-545-0762. Also new this year, HomeCheck participants can get a $20 coupon for getting their heating system tuned up.