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Ben Hubbert A Focus on Energy Efficiency Written by: Ben Hubbert
Issue: July 2014 | NSIDE Business
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Are you using your electricity, or is your electricity using you?

HVAC System:

Accounts for up to 68 percent of the utility bill 

Water heater: Accounts for 14 percent 

Lighting: Accounts for 10 percent

Refrigerator: Accounts for 7 percent  

(Courtesy of Albert Cantu, CPS Energy)

We all receive them. There is no way to avoid them. But if you are aware of what you can do to improve the end result, you won’t dread getting them in your inbox. 

What am I talking about? Your energy bills. 

Although it’s September, we’re in San Antonio, which means the heat is not yet ready to go away. While we may have some relief, there is still much you can be doing to save yourself money on your electricity bill. CPS Energy will continue to send a bill every month, so take the initiative to make the most of it. 

A great way to save is to take an in-depth look at your bill and figure out how and where you can save. The most important elements to be aware of on your bill are as follows:

Your Electricity Use Graph measures the use of your energy in kwh, which stands for kilowatt-hours. And it shows you how much electricity you have used over the past 12 months. This allows you to compare one month to the next. 

Your peak months of electricity use are July, August and September. The cooling portion of your bill makes up about 60 percent of your electric bill. You can cut down on about half of the cooling portion of your bill by ensuring that you have energy-efficient products and systems.

CPS Energy Communication Analyst Albert Cantu explained it this way: “When looking at your CPS Energy bill, always pay attention to the amount of kilowatt-hours currently used and previously used. This can help you keep a range of energy usage a month. By paying close attention to your consumption, you’re more likely to make changes to save more energy and money.”

Focus your efforts on energy efficiency in order to save money on your bill each month. Things like new appliances and a new television may look nice in your home, but when you’re considering your electric bill, making an investment in energy-friendly products and appliances can truly help you out in the long run.

A very green option to decrease your bill is to go solar. It will cut the cooling portion of your energy bill by up to 90 percent.

Cantu shared some incredible statistics to consider when dissecting your electric bill.

“According to the Department of Energy, if you combined all the air leaks in a home, you’d have a 3 x 3 hole in the wall,” he said. “Air infiltration can cause any living space to become uncomfortable and create high bills.”

Cantu recommended specific areas to pay attention to in order to avoid energy waste: 

• Soleplate: The soleplate is where the house meets the foundation. About 25 percent of the air that comes into the house is through the soleplate. Block air by using spray foam. This will reduce air infiltration and help keep the critters away. 

• Outlets and switches: 20 percent of the air that comes in from the outdoors is through outlets and switches. Use gaskets, which can be found at any hardware store, to seal these holes. 

• Windows and doors: Use weather stripping around windows and doors to reduce drafts.

• Fireplace: If you have one, make sure your damper is closed when not in use.

• Air infiltration: Reducing air infiltration will make the home more comfortable and reduce the load on the HVAC system. 

Another portion of your bill to keep constant attention on is the Account Comparison Summary. The noted “current month” depicts your present billing cycle. The graph also includes the “previous month” column to measure the cost of the bill the previous month. 

Another helpful gauge is the “last year” column, which allows you to compare your consumption from September 2011 to September 2010. Are you improving?

In addition to helping yourself and the environment, you also have the opportunity to support others by adding even just a few dollars to your energy bill payment. 

The Donation to REAP section provides you with the option to contribute to REAP, Inc., which stands for Residential Energy Assistance Partnership. This program supports those who are struggling to pay their utility bills each month.

When you think about it, receiving and paying your bill sounds like such a simple task, but when you take the time to read between the lines, you can improve hope for your home, yourself and the members of your community. 

Your energy bill probably never seemed like such a difference maker. Now it’s time to make a difference.

Ben Hubbert is the president and co-owner of Champion AC, an air conditioning and heating company in San Antonio. Champion AC is a leader in the green movement that focuses on controlling the weather in your home. Find out more by phone at 210-372-1234 or on the Web at www.championac.com.

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