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Save money on utility bills by winterizing your home

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Oct 26 2012 05:05:21 PM CDT
ENERGY EVAL
BRISTOL, Va. -

Get ready to crank up the heat in the next few days. Winter weather is fast approaching, but is your home ready for it? News 5 met up with a TVA energy advisor Friday and brought back some easy and affordable tips that can save you money on your next utility bill.

Wes Sowar is giving a Bristol, Virginia home an efficiency face lift. As an energy advisor for TVA's 'Energy Right' program, he starts an inspection of just how well the house is doing, and just a minute or two into the audit, he found problems.

Where ceiling lines meet the walls, Sowar says caulk or foam can help keep air from escaping. "If it's windy outside, it keeps the wind from blowing air through the insulation," Sowar explained.

Windows and doors need this attention, too. Some may need repair or weather stripping. "I can see daylight through this door. You can actually feel a little bit of air coming in right here," said Sowar.

Sowar also recommended changing your filter every month. "As your filter gets dirty, it causes your system to work a little bit harder. It can decrease the efficiency, and if you have places where your ducts are leaking on the return side, it can pull air outside the building more as this starts to get clogged up," Sowar told us as he looked inside the air duct.

After checking out the exterior of the home, we headed to the basement where we learned insulation upkeep is a must. "Some of the insulation support has fallen. Some of the insulation is deteriorated," Sowar said as he pointed out some problem areas.

We learned dust or dirt on your insulation could be a sign your insulation has air leaks in it.

Exposed joints in duct systems are another common problem. "You can see where the tape is actually feeling away. It's not sticking at all at this point," said Sowar. He said all joints need to be property sealed.

It's an easy fix, but perhaps the easiest and biggest bang for your buck is a simple compact florescent light bulb. "It's going to use about a quarter to a third of the energy of the bulb with about the same light output," explained Sowar.

After the home's been thoroughly inspected, Sowar compiled a report for the resident explaining what can be improved.

Once you get the report, the next thing to do is to go to your local hardware store and pick up things like caulk and weather stripping. Both cost about five dollars each, but can save you a lot more.

"These type of improvements, we're looking at anywhere from 20 to 30 percent savings on your utility bill," Sower said. That can add up to several hundred dollars in a year's time.

That's great news for the homeowner who just got his audit. He's now ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work before old man winter is here to stay.

"I just retired and every penny counts now definitely so yeah, that's going to make a lot of difference," the homeowner told us.

The 'Energy Right' program is available for any TVA customer through your local power board.

The price for an audit may vary, but we learned Bristol, Virginia Utilities has 38 spots left for a free inspection.

We also learned after having the audit you may be eligible for up to a $500 reimbursement credit for repairs.

For more information on the program, visit http://www.energyright.com/ or contact your local power board.