WASHINGTON - With average heating costs across the nation expected to spike about 11 percent over last winter’s, the Alliance to Save Energy recommends energy-efficiency measures to help consumers cut home energy bills, increase indoor comfort, and reduce power plant emissions that contribute to climate change. HVAC contractors can pass these tips along to customers and prospects.

“This winter, U.S. consumers face heating costs of close to $1,000,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. “Further, total 2008 home energy costs for U.S. households are projected at close to $2,200. That’s a huge bite out of the family budget. But consumers can reduce those costs by up to 30 percent, and even more in some cases, with simple yet effective energy-efficiency measures.”

The Alliance has prepared a winter home energy fact sheet for each state and the District of Columbia, as well as for the country as a whole (www.ase.org/statefacts). They show consumers how much their heating costs are likely to increase this winter and provide tips on reducing heating and overall household energy bills.

The Alliance also cites useful Web resources from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help consumers be more energy efficient around the house.

One new online tool from EPA, the “Energy Star Home Advisor” (www.energystar.gov/homeadvisor), recommends home improvement projects to undertake to increase energy efficiency and comfort. Simply enter your zip code, the fuels used to heat and cool your home, and the type of water heater you have.

Home improvement recommendations range from sealing air leaks and ducts and adding insulation, to replacing HVAC equipment that is more than 10 years old, installing a programmable thermostat, and considering Energy Star qualified products when replacing windows, lighting, appliances, electronics, and home office equipment.

Another EPA Web tool, “Heat Smartly with Energy Star@home” (www.energystar.gov/home) offers a room-by-room “house tour” that identifies opportunities to cut home energy bills while also helping to protect the environment. Blue stars provide tips for saving energy and money inside and outside of the home, from changing the incandescent bulb in the porch light to a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) to setting the water heater to 120 degrees or lower.

Additional energy- and money-saving tips and free resources can be found on the Alliance’s Website at www.ase.org/consumers - see “Tips to Lower Your Energy Bills” and other sections.

Publication date:01/07/2008