Disclaimer: The Energy column provides general information to help you manage your energy costs. Some electric cooperatives may not offer all the programs mentioned in this column.
By Stephanie Johnson — guest columnist, Jasper County REMC
This spring, the stress you encounter from filing your federal income taxes may be relieved by your tax refund — which may be a nice amount! The Internal Revenue Service reported in early April last year that more than 79 million tax refunds had been issued, and the average refund was $2,864. Even if the amount is smaller than average, you can still use it to help lower your home’s energy use and cost.
Programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat can help you reduce energy use when you are away or asleep. If you have Wi-Fi, you can purchase an internet-enabled thermostat that connects to your home’s wireless network, allowing you to control your home’s temperature remotely. You can save as much as 10 percent on heating and cooling costs each year.
Appliances: If you plan on upgrading an appliance in your home, seek out one that is ENERGY STAR® certified. ENERGY STAR reports that households using products that garner its certification can save hundreds in energy costs.ENERGY STAR can help you find a new dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, clothes washer, or clothes dryer to help make your day to day chores more affordable.
Retrofits or renovations: If you are planning a larger home project, investing in energy efficiency upgrades can reduce your energy use while maintaining (or even improving) your home’s comfort. If you own an older home, upgrading to a more efficient HVAC system can reduce energy consumption dramatically. In addition, switching from traditional lightbulbs to LEDs can reduce costs significantly.
… but first, seal and insulate! If your home is not in need of immediate upgrades, you may simply want to seal any areas where air may escape your home. Common air leak locations include ductwork, joints, around chimneys, openings near water and gas lines, and near dryer vents. After your house is properly sealed, you can have your home’s insulation levels checked to see if more is needed. While not as attention-grabbing as new efficient appliances, proper sealing and insulation can still be incredibly effective at improving your home’s comfort. You can visit the ENERGY STAR website for advice on properly sealing your home.
These are just a few examples of how you can spend your tax refund to save on your home’s energy costs. Contact your electric cooperative to schedule a home energy assessment and get even more ideas on how you can invest in energy efficient home projects to save energy — and money — in the long run!