News 11 Special Report: 4 ways to lower your energy bills

By Jerry Anderson - email

Posted by Dave Dykema - email

TOLEDO, OHIO (WTOL) - Forget about caulking your windows, getting a programmable thermostat and changing your furnace filter to save energy.

All are fine tips and do save you money -- but we've heard them all before.

Brad Huebner says we are living in different times.

"This is the largest revolution in the history of mankind as far as demographic revolution," he says. We are living in, "the green revolution."

So passionate is Huebner about getting our energy costs and usage under control, he's started a new Toledo business, Energy Saver Advisors, to make it happen.

"If we don't take this serious, there's bad consequences for future generations. We just cannot keep our head in the sand on it any longer."

Huebner wants us all to be more educated about our energy usage. To demonstrate, he invited us to his home.

To begin with, he describes the "envelope" of his house, saying the attic, basement and crawl spaces are large energy wasters.

Heating and air conditioning account for nearly half a home's energy bill. More weather-proofing is needed, but these days, that's not just insulation.

"We will actually put the radiant barrier on the sides of the attic."

The radiant barrier is about the thickness of a CD jewel case. It goes on the walls and ceiling of attics and crawl spaces.

But don't let its thinness fool you. It provides a significant boost to our R-value, Huebner tells us.

Next he shows us a power reduction unit by the electric box.

The small black box smoothes out the electrical "spikes" created when we turn on things with motors: hair dryers, vacuums, and the like.

Spikes drive up the price of your electricity. Huebner says this box brings it down.

"At the end of the month look at approximately a 20% savings from that one product."

Despite a pretty intense afternoon sun, the house is cool and the AC isn't running.

The same is true at Energy Saver Advisors' lofty setting overlooking Fifth-Third Field.

It's no accident.

Heubner's installed a very high tech window film.

For the sake of an experiment, he's taken the film off the lower half of one window.

We measured the BTUs coming in the untreated window.

Comparatively, the treated window blocks most of the sun's stifling energy.

"We're talking about being able to prevent about 65% of the heat from coming in to the home."

The film also keeps 49% more heat inside the home in the wintertime.

With fully one-fourth of our energy costs going to heat water, Heubner shows us a pretty normal looking shower head, except that it's anything but normal.

When the water gets hot a sensor stops it, "So when we're ready to take a shower we just pull on the little string and, voila, your hot water is ready for you."

Saving energy and water can save big dollars.

"You could easily look at a 30% reduction in your overall utility bills," says Huebner.

Saving big dollars is good, but does it cost big dollars to install these energy efficient improvements?

If you did all of those four things, depending on the size of your house, you could spend around $5,000.

Right now with the green effort in full force, energy efficient installations like these can earn you up to a 30% tax credit.

That takes $1,500 off the bill, knocking it down to $3,500.

Now figure in around 30% off your utility bills and all of this could pay for itself in a couple of years.

Huebner believes that after the recession, energy prices will once again likely soar to sobering levels.

"Our home energy bill, combined with utilities, can be and will be more than your mortgage if you do not address your utilities now."

Words to bring a chill to your spine, no matter how well insulated your house is.

Energy audits for only $75 are available. Here's a link.

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