MINNEAPOLIS -- Ready or not, many of us are in store for an expensive winter when it comes to heating our homes.
The nonprofit National Energy Assistance Directors Association predicts the average household will pay 17% more this winter in heating, which would mark a 10-year high of $1,200 per home.
Electric bills are also expected to rise 7.5% from 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Experts said higher natural gas prices, the war in Ukraine and inflation are all to blame, but there are things homeowners can do to help cut costs.
Getting a home energy audit is a great way to know where money is falling through the cracks in your home.
In the Twin Cities, the Home Energy Squad offers home energy audits all year-round. The program is provided by Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy and administered by the Center for Energy and Environment.
A visit with the Home Energy Squad can last between one and three hours depending on the home and the type of visit.
Crew members help homeowners evaluate energy-saving opportunities in the home and install energy-saving products on the spot.
Experts say simple changes to save money include installing door weather stripping, LED bulbs, high-efficiency faucet aerators and shower heads, programmable or smart thermostats and more.
More sophisticated tests can also be performed using infrared technology to see heat signatures that determine where air is leaking in to a home from the outside.
A blow door test is also another useful tool experts can use to see how much air is leaking into a home from the doorway.
The price for a home energy audit starts at $70 but many cities pay for half of the cost and some visits are free, based on income-qualified households that earn below 60% of the area's median income.
For more information about the Home Energy Squad and how to sign up for a home energy audit, click here.
The Home Energy Squad gave WCCO some general tips for saving money on keeping your home warm during the winter months.
- Home Visit and Energy Report: The visit and report give homeowners info about how your home uses energy and what areas could be improved. Homeowners can use their Energy Report as a roadmap to improving the home's energy efficiency, including helpful resources and next steps for bigger efficiency improvements.
- Programmable or smart thermostat: Set it and forget it! The thermostat CEE installs will keep comfy when you are home and saves you energy whenever you are away.
- Weatherstripping (& other installs): Along with other installations included in the visit price, weatherstripping stops heat from escaping around your exterior doors so you can have cozier rooms this winter.
- Insulation quotes and estimates: Insulation is often the biggest factor in a home's energy efficiency. Connect to CEE's high-quality partnering insulation contractors when your auditor writes you a quote for insulation improvements. Or ask CEE's energy advisors to schedule your free insulation estimate appointment.
- Energy Advisor Service: After your home energy visit, use this free service to guide you through the most impactful energy upgrades. Talk to a human about your energy report and potential improvements. CEE is a mission-driven nonprofit that is here to serve.
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