How to lower your energy bills

Tired of ridiculously high energy bills? Typically, 45% of your utility bill goes to heating and cooling. There are some simple things you can do to help lower those bills. Here are a few tips you can try:

1. Set your thermostat as high as comfortable in the summer and as low as comfortable in the winter.

2. Get a programmable thermostat so you can use less energy when you are asleep or not at home. You can save as much as 10% a year on your utility bills by turning your thermostat back 10-15 degrees for eight hours a day.

3. Have your furnace and A/C tuned up annually so they are running at peak efficiency.

4. Insulate and seal ducts — especially ducts that are in unconditioned areas like attics, crawl spaces and garages. You can lose up to 60% of your heated air before it reaches the register if your ducts aren’t insulated and they travel through unheated spaces.

5. Plant a tree — a carefully positioned tree that shades your home can save up to 25% of a typical household’s cooling expenses. The best time to plant a tree was yesterday.

6. Clean or replace one-inch furnace filters once a month or as needed.

7. Clean registers, baseboard heaters and radiators once or twice a year and make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.

8. Turn off kitchen and bath exhaust fans after use. (Consider high-efficiency, low-noise models.)

9. Turn off lights in empty rooms or when leaving the house.

10. In the winter, keep the shades/drapes on the south-facing windows open during the day to collect heat from the sunlight. Close them at night to help keep chilled air from entering. In the summer, keep them closed during the day and the sunlight out.

11. Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates. It can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating by up to 40%. KCP&L offers a lower electric rate eight months out of the year for homeowners with heat pumps. Take advantage of it.

12. Choose Energy-Star rated (or higher efficiency) furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps when replacing systems.

You can pay off your mortgage, but you can never pay off the utility companies!