How to find, reduce wasted energy in your home amid Houston heatwave

Home energy bills are spiking in this heat wave.  One way to knock them down is to get an energy audit to see where your home is wasting energy.  

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You can pay a few hundred dollars for a professional energy audit. But some energy providers, such as Reliant Energy, offer home assessments for free.  Reliant showed us how you can do your own as well.

"It’s an infrared thermometer.  I can take a temperature reading and I can tell right now it is 72.2 degrees and the thermostat is reading 71, so pretty accurate," said Arcadio Padilla with Reliant Energy.

An infrared thermometer, which you can buy for under $20, is one of the tools of an energy consultant like Arcadio Padilla.  

He says ideally, the air temperature coming out of your air vents should be 15 to 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature going in.

"Less than 10 degrees, something is wrong.  That’s when you need to get someone to come out and take a look at your unit," said Padilla.

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Another big energy-saving tip, he says, is to close blinds and curtains, especially thermal curtains, to block the sun's heat.

The EPA says that can cut as much as 33% off your bill, and Padilla agrees.

That could mean up to $82 off a $250 bill.  A ceiling fan starts as low as $30.  Running it counterclockwise can shave 4% to 8% off your bill.  That's up to $20 a month.

"It’s a lot cheaper to run a ceiling fan than it is running the air conditioner," he said.  

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Padilla says don't use the dishwasher's hot drying cycle, and don't use the oven or clothes dryer in the hottest parts of the day.  

"If you add heat and humidity during the hottest part of the day, it’s harder for the air conditioner to remove that heat and humidity," he said.

As a rule of thumb, Padilla says in the summer, you should aim for using one kWh of power per one square foot of your home.

"If you are consuming one kWh per foot, you are doing pretty good. Less is even better," Padilla said. "If you’re consuming more, room for improvement."


You can call your energy provider's customer service to ask about a free audit.