Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back to Basics: Summer Energy Tips

It sounds simple, but summer is a great time to get back to the basics. Instead of investing a lot of money into large upgrades, there are very easy things you can do to help manage your energy costs.

First, take control of your thermostat. Heating and cooling account for about 50 percent of your annual energy costs – and we all know how hot and humid our South Carolina summers can be! We recommend setting your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher in the summer. Each degree lower than the recommended setting can significantly increase your cooling costs in summer. Also remember, when you’re away on summer vacation, consider bumping your thermostat up several degrees above 78 to maximize efficiency while you’re away.

Second, think about your water heater – it accounts for about 14 percent of your annual energy costs. Be sure your water heater is set to 120˚F or lower. Since heating the water in your home is such a significant part of your bill, it is also important to visually inspect your water heater from time to time for any leaks, rust or other abnormalities.

Here are some more simple tips:

  • Check your HVAC filters monthly and replace them when they’re dirty
  • Unplug any electronics that are not in use
  • Caulk windows and weather strip exterior doors where necessary

Saving energy doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Get back to the basics! For more information and additional energy saving tips, please visit

Monday, June 7, 2010

Top energy questions to ask when buying an older home

Thinking of buying an older home? How efficient will it use energy? This is a question many homebuyers are asking these days. Here are some tips that may help:

1) Request energy bill copies
Ask to see the energy bills for the last 12 months for all energy sources used in the home, i.e. electricity, natural gas, propane, etc. Look at the July/August and the January/February bills. These bills should reflect the highest monthly energy costs for the current owners. Do these costs fit into your monthly budget? Remember that lifestyle is a critical part of your energy costs. It is not unusual for a retired couple to have much lower energy bills than a family of four in the same home.

2) Request an energy audit
If the energy costs seem too high, ask for a certified Building Performance Institute Building Analyst to conduct an in-depth energy audit on the home. Or, request that the owner have a
free in-home energy consultation from SCE&G. Either way, you should receive a detailed report on the current energy efficiency level of the home and what can be done to improve it.

3) Obtain a list of appliances
Request a list of the type and age of major appliances installed in the home, i.e. furnace/heat pump, water heater, HVAC system, etc. Review this list for possible replacements that you might have to make within a few years. Here are some estimated life expectancies:

· tanked water heaters and heat pumps: 12-15 years;

· natural gas furnaces: 15-20 years, but some heat exchangers have a lifetime guarantee;

· tankless natural gas water heaters: 20 years.

Also, ask for information about repairs made to the heating/cooling systems and water heater so you can see if they remedied the problem for good or only temporarily.

4) Talk with your tax advisor
If you made energy efficiency repairs/upgrades on the home, would you qualify for the
2010 Federal Tax Credits? You may be eligible for up to $1,500 and might be able to significantly reduce the energy costs of the home. This ends 12/31/10.

5) Appliance rebates
While funds last, the
S.C. Energy office is offering rebates when customers replace older, inefficient appliances like refrigerators, window air conditioners and dishwashers with new ENERGY STAR® appliances. If you choose to replace appliances, this offer may help.

Have an energy efficiency question?

Welcome to the EnergyWise® blog, a place to gain insights into energy efficiency tips and programs offered by South Carolina Electric & Gas. Have a specific question? Ask our Energy Team or comment to one of our posts below.