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Football Season Means Colder Weather: Lower Your Energy Costs

It’s at this point in the football season that you start to see fans pull out their gloves, scarves and jackets so they can cheer comfortably from the stands. Chilly (and chili) weather is upon us, and you’ll most likely start to see a spike in your home heating costs. Fortunately, the TVA is making it easy for Tennesseans to make small changes that will have a significant impact on our utility bills.

My family and I have taken some of these measures and have been surprised by how easy and inexpensive they can be to implement. If you want to lower your energy use and costs but don’t know where to start, there are five basic steps:

1. Take an online home energy evaluation.

All Tennessee local electric power providers are partners with TVA Energyright Solutions. You can go here to take a home energy evaluation to find out where most of your energy costs are going and get some preliminary recommendations for improving energy efficiency. We found out half our total costs were going toward heating and cooling, and that turning down the thermostat just one degree would make a difference.

2. Sign up with your local power provider for a home energy inspection.

A certified inspector came to my house for a complete evaluation. An inspection costs $150, but you can get that money back if you adopt some of the recommendations. The inspector identified ways we could save money and rank ordered his recommendations based on return on investment. He told us how much we would save versus how much we would have to spend and how long it would take to recoup costs.

3. Identify the recommendations you are willing or able to adopt.

We decided to make changes in four primary areas: weatherization, water heating, lighting in the house and heating/cooling. In the water heating category, they made two suggestions that cost us less than $40: low-flow shower heads and an insulating blanket for the water heater.

4. Take advantage of the incentives being offered to save energy.

To get your $150 back from the in-home evaluation, the improvements must be completed within 90 days of the inspection by a member of the quality control network. You can get an additional reimbursement of 50 percent of the cost (up to $500) on your electric bill if you have the work completed within 90 days and have a home performance review after the work is complete. Davidson County residents are eligible for additional incentives through the Nashville Energy Works program. You can find out more at www.nashvilleenergyworks.org.

5. Be sure whatever measures you put in place are sustainable.

I love the definition of sustainability: the capacity to endure. The biggest challenge is to commit consistently to energy reduction. You can’t turn lights off when you’re not using them for just a week—you have to do it forever. I believe people are willing to make small lifestyle changes to lower their energy use and costs.

For more information, listen to the podcast using the audio player below.

Can’t see the podcast player? Click here.

Nancy Boring can be reached at (615) 690-4012 or nancy.boring@pnfp.com.

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