CONSIDER THIS: Using energy wisely this winter

CONSIDER THIS: Using energy wisely this winter

Georgians are spending a significant chunk of change on household energy costs – yet most have not performed an annual energy audit to evaluate for potential saving opportunities.

In a survey of more than 2,000 Georgians conducted by The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates, the majority of respondents – about 85 percent – said they spend between $1,000 and $3,000 per year in household energy expenses.

This range mirrors the national trends. Each household in the U.S. uses an average of 77.1 British thermal units (Btus) each year, costing each household about $1,856 per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Heating, air conditioning and water heating account for more than 74 percent of the energy consumed per household nationally and for 60 percent of the household energy dollars spent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That also aligns with Georgia. In The LSCU & Affiliates’ survey, 84 percent of respondents indicated space heating and cooling used the most energy in their homes.

Cooling costs may be more drastic in Georgia than the national average. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, air conditioning accounts for 14 percent of each U.S. household’s energy expenditures. But that number jumps to more than 20 percent in hot and humid states across the South – states like Georgia.

However, U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows it costs more money to heat than to cool. Southern states spend $1,917 per year in energy expenditures. According to the data, $465 of that goes toward heat while $392 goes to cooling.

Meanwhile, households in New England states spend $2,541 in energy costs – and $1,046 of that goes to heating alone.

Maybe that’s why Georgians frequently opt out of energy audits. In The LSCU & Affiliates’ survey, 82 percent of Georgians said they’d never had an energy audit performed at their homes. But that may not be the wisest move. According to, a home energy audit costs an average of $403 and can typically save consumers anywhere from 5 percent to 30 percent on energy bills.

Tips to Using Energy Wisely in Winter Months

  • Conduct an energy audit. Conduct a professional or DIY energy audit on your home to identify savings opportunities.
  • Use the sun. Open the curtains on south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to heat your home. Then close at night to prevent losing heat through windows.
  • Check window coverings. Cover drafty windows with a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to reduce infiltration.
  • Be smart with the thermostat. Adjust the thermostat as low as is comfortable when at home and awake. When away or asleep, turn the thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills.
  • Spot and seal Leaks. Seal any air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind closets. Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
  • Tune-Up. Schedule a routine tune-up on your heating system to ensure peak performance.
  • Clean air ducts. Clean your air ducts to ensure fresh, allergen-free air flows through your home.
  • Use your fireplace carefully. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. When you use the fireplace, open dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat to between 50° and 55°F.
  • Go LED. Use LED holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.

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