Electric bills are a reality for many Americans, but with energy prices expected to rise in many parts of the country, you may be looking for a way to control those costs.

The average American household spent $121 per month, or $1,452 per year, on energy bills in 2021, according to the Energy Information Administration.

While some projections expect an increase in energy rates this winter, as the prices of fuels like natural gas rise, there are ways to offset those increases by making your home more energy efficient.

All households can now apply for the North Carolina heating bill assistance program

So what can you do? Here are three tips to help keep your bills down.

Tip #1: Schedule a Home Energy Audit

One of the best ways to start figuring out how to save on your energy bills is to have an expert check out your home.

Some local utilities, private companies, and even some government agencies offer this service, called an energy audit or energy assessment. In the audit, an expert will look for opportunities to reduce energy use in your home, ranging from replacing old light bulbs with more efficient LED options, testing your doors and windows for air leaks that allow heat to escape or enter cool air, or recommend which appliances to replace with newer, more efficient alternatives.

In some cases, the energy auditor may install some of these swaps at no additional cost at the time of the audit.

The Department of Energy has information on how to find a certified energy assessment in your area, or you can check with your local utility company.

Tip #2: Reduce your energy use

Reducing your home’s energy footprint can seem intimidating, but there are simple steps that can help limit energy waste in your home. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program says homeowners could save up to $400 a year by taking steps to become more energy efficient, though the amount will vary based on home size and energy use.

Many of the options involve taking steps to make sure your home isn’t turning on electronic devices when they’re not needed or allowing cold air to filter into the home, making it difficult to keep it warm.

Installing a smart or programmable thermostat is one way to help save 10% on your energy bills by allowing you to automatically lower the temperature at night or when no one is home, according to the Department of Energy.

Tip #3: Look for incentives to improve your home

If you’re looking to make bigger changes to your home, like buying new appliances, replacing windows, or even installing solar panels, the Cut Inflation Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last August, includes rebates and tax credits updated this year. for help with some of those costs. In some cases, upgrading to newer, more efficient appliances or systems to keep your home warm can reduce your energy use and ultimately your bills.

A heat pump, for example, is an electrical system that can replace both an air conditioner and a heater and is considered three to five times more efficient than a traditional natural gas-fired furnace, according to the nonprofit organization Rewiring America. . Under the Inflation Reduction Act, consumers who install a heat pump will be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost, up to $2,000.

Rewiring America has a calculator to check which Reducing Inflation Act programs might benefit your household. There are also links to all the programs available.

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