How to reduce your power bill

Alabama Power's Brandon Parker checks the weather stripping on this back door.
Alabama Power's Brandon Parker checks the weather stripping on this back door.
Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents to save money.
Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents to save money.

By Mark Bullock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - You may be ready for the colder winter weather, but is your home ready as well? If your house isn't energy efficient, you are probably paying too much on your monthly power bill.

So what are quick and easy ways to reduce your bill right now? We invited an expert from Alabama Power to tour a typical home in Montgomery and give us some advice.

Exterior Energy Audit

We started on the exterior of the home, where Brandon Parker immediately noticed some leaves around the air conditioning unit.

"It won't run as good as if it were perfectly clean," Parker said.

He also recommended repairing some flattened coils.

"It can't breathe. It can't draw air through it," he explained.

For a quick fix, just call your heating and air company and schedule a maintenance appointment. Parker recommends check ups in the spring and fall.

To keep all that heat inside your house, you may want to invest in more energy efficient windows and replace worn-out weather stripping around your doors.

"It's very easy to remove old weather stripping and buy new stripping at a home improvement store," Parker said.

Interior Energy Audit

Now to the interior, where ceiling fans are great year round. In the winter months, Parker says you should reverse the direction of the fan blades to better recirculate the warmer air.

By doing so, Parker predicted "you can probably get away with bumping down your thermostat two more degrees."

Also, make sure you change your air conditioning filter once every 30 days. That alone could reduce your power bill up to 25 percent.

And, speaking of your thermostat, keep an eye on the temperature.

"68-degrees is a good setting for the winter," Parker recommended. "The best summer setting is 78-degrees."

In the attic, make sure your insulation hasn't settled. If so, you should contact an insulation contractor for advice.

And just like you clean the coils around your AC unit, don't forget about the ones underneath your refrigerator.

"If they're dirty, your refrigerator doesn't operate in an energy efficient manner," Parker explained.

There are more obvious energy saving tactics as well, like washing your clothes in cold water and replacing old incandescent light bulbs with longer-lasting compact fluorescents.

"You can save close to 70 percent of the energy that's used by incandescent bulbs by replacing them with compact fluorescent bulbs," Parker said.

Finally, tell the kids to close that refrigerator door! By doing so, you can expect big savings the next time your power bill comes in the mail.

Performing Your Own Energy Audit

To see how your home stacks up to an energy audit, check with your power company. Most electric providers offer virtual audits on their web sites.

You'll find these virtual audits by clicking on the web extra link above for your provider.

Some of the co-ops, like Dixie Electric, even offer in-home inspections. Call your provider for more information.