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News / Life / Clark County Life

Energy Adviser: Heating, cooling upgrades will pay off

By Clark Public Utilities
Published: August 5, 2023, 6:01am

Heating and cooling costs account for about half of the typical household utility budget throughout the year, but those costs can be much greater than that during blisteringly hot summer months or an especially cold winter.

Fortunately, making the right home improvements can make living through rough weather much more comfortable and affordable.

“Changes in personal habits can go a long way to lower energy expenses, but catching your home up with the innovations of modern construction design can make an immediate and permanent improvement in its performance,” said Anthony Jeffries, a Clark Public Utilities Energy Services counselor.

If you live in a home built before the 1990s, especially one that’s electrically heated, it’s worth investing in upgrades that make your home more efficient. Depending on your home’s circumstances, the initial investment will vary, but the savings can show up on your utility bill right away and will add up over time.

The late summer and early fall are excellent times of year for larger home improvement projects. When winter comes, you’ll be ready for the mercury to drop. Jeffries says one of the best places to start for a larger financial investment is the heating system. It’s typically the most expensive upgrade on the menu, but it’ll have a big impact over the long term.

Electric resistance heaters, like electric furnaces, cable-ceiling, baseboard and wall heaters, convert electrical energy into heat, which can be a very costly process even at Clark Public Utilities’ low energy rates.

“Resistance heating is toaster oven technology,” Jeffries said. “Converting to a ductless heat pump or pairing an electric furnace with a heat pump will offer big savings on those winter bills. Plus, you’ll get air conditioning in the summer.”

No matter how efficient your heating or cooling system is, a poorly insulated house will force it to work overtime to maintain your desired temperature, and that won’t do your budget any good.

“Without good insulation and a tight home envelope, you’ll be sending money right outside,” Jeffries said.

It’s common for older homes to be under-insulated. It’s also common for them to have many tiny air leaks around light and plumbing fixtures, doors and more. Those things together are big reasons why an old home feels drafty or why some rooms can be noticeably warmer or colder than others.

Getting the proper amount of insulation under the floors and up in the attic can be done quickly and is one of the most cost-effective and comfort-boosting home performance upgrades available. Many local contractors can also add insulation to existing walls with minimal inconvenience to the homeowner.

Stopping those many tiny leaks through weatherization will help trap your conditioned air inside, and keep Mother Nature’s influence where it should be — outside.

Clark Public Utilities offers financial incentives for electrically heated homes that can make home heating, weatherization and insulation projects more affordable. Certain conditions apply. Learn more at www.clarkpublicutilities.com/reducewaste.

Even for the most well-educated homeowner, it can be hard to know what your home has and what it doesn’t — or how to prioritize projects. But Clark Public Utilities’ energy counselors are here to help. Customers in electrically heated homes can schedule a free in-person home energy review. To schedule yours, call the Energy Counselor of the Day at 360-992-3355.

Energy Adviser is produced by Clark Public Utilities and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors and staff, who provide conservation and energy use information. To contact us call 360-992-3355, email ecod@clarkpud.com or visit www.clarkpublicutilities.com.