Tuesday, August 5, 2008

August Energy Smart Tip

Creating an "Energy Budget"

Do you know what you are spending on utilities each month? While gas prices are in the headlines everyday, you might not know that natural gas prices are expected to increase approximately 60% on an average basis between 2007 and 2008 (see the EIA Short Term Outlook). Even if you have a budget to manage your bills, your budget could easily be blown by energy cost inflation.

Following are a few recommendations for establishing an energy budget and controlling costs:
  • Have your utilities switched to "budget billing" that sets your monthly bill based on an average of the previous year or quarter's usage. (Duke makes this very easy on their website.)
  • Track your average usage from the previous 12 months and make a serious effort to reduce it in some way each month.
  • Set aside a specific amount each month for efficiency improvements, then set out a plan to upgrade as your budget allows. An energy audit can help identify what will save you the most on your utility bills.
  • Moving soon? Make your new home as efficient as possible before you move in. If you can include the cost for energy efficiency into the mortgage, you could actually save money each month and earn dividends over the long haul.
In coming months, I will discuss options for financing improvements and understanding "payback" periods.

For more ways to save, see the Alliance to Save Energy website.

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