Struggling with utility bills? Consumers offer some advice on how to rein that cost in.


Did you know that the government will rebate you for certain energy efficient products?

If you're like 69% of Americans, you’re seeing higher energy bills than you have in recent years.

A new survey from HOP Energy says that the national average for the most recent electric bill stands at $201 per month, while New England residents face a higher bill of $245, a staggering 22% above the national average. In contrast, people in the Midwest are lucking out by getting some relief from bills around $180, 10% below the national average.

A high utility bill is one thing if you have the money to pay for it, but over one in three Americans find it a challenge. This struggle is more severe in the South, where 50% of those surveyed face difficulties, probably due to extreme heat and increased demand on air conditioners and HVAC systems. 

Consumers share their energy saving methods

The HOP Energy analysts asked their survey respondents what they do to keep utility costs at a reasonable roar. Among the most popular methods are using energy-efficient light bulbs, unplugging idle devices, and setting the washing machine to cold water.

Using window fans instead of air conditioning and adjusting home temperatures based on outside conditions are other strategies. 

With winter approaching, the respondents said they aim to keep their homes cozy, going for an average national home temperature of 69 degrees, with those in the Western U.S. preferring a slightly cooler 67.4 degrees, and those in the South enjoying a warmer 70.1 degrees. 

For the sake of cost savings, 56% of respondents admit to keeping their homes cooler than their ideal temperature in winter. New England residents have the widest gap, lowering their home temperatures by two degrees, while the South maintains a more modest one-degree difference. Nearly two in three Americans opt to bundle up with warm clothing rather than cranking up the heat.

In colder climates, many homeowners embark on winterization efforts, including inspecting the heating system, applying plastic to windows, installing door sweeps, cleaning gutters, adding weather stripping, and reversing ceiling fans.

The costs for these measures range from $181 in the Midwest to a steeper $605 in New England, but those who said they took these steps felt that there was a return on their investment.

A deeper dive may have an even better payoff

The U.S. Department of Energy is big on energy assessments – either the type you pay to have done or the type you can do yourself.

If you decide you’re smart enough to do an energy audit on your own, the agency suggests you make sure you examine everything on this list.

If you decide to spring for a professional home energy assessment, it can get you a detailed picture of your home's energy use. Going room to room, a professional assessor will take equipment such as blower doors, infrared cameras, gas leak and carbon monoxide detectors, moisture meters, and non-toxic smoke pens to try and find every little gap that could be closed off and lower your utility bill.

There’s a handsome bonus for having an energy audit done, too – a tax deduction! “If you make qualified energy-efficient improvements to your home after Jan. 1, 2023, you may qualify for a tax credit up to $3,200,” the IRS says. “You can claim the credit for improvements made through 2032.”

One other bonus waiting for consumers are rebates and tax credits for products that have an Energy Star efficiency rating. Dishwashers, doors, ceiling fans, thermostats, heat pumps, and more.

The incentives offered by the Federal Government can be pretty hefty, too – like 30% of cost of a new heat pump up to $2,000.

The only concern that ConsumerAffairs reviewers have expressed with Energy Star products is that some products say they’re Energy Star efficient, but fail to meet those standards. If you decide to pick out any Energy Star product, make sure you do your research on what others have to say about that specific model.

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