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Cut back before powering up
May 13, 2014 - Rob Weaver
An informational seminar focusing on residential use of renewable energy systems Saturday morning not only offered information about how to reduce your electric bill, but also suggestions on how to reduce your electrical usage.
Those are two different aspects that should be considered by homeowners -- and, really, renters, too.
Dan Klear of Superior Energy Solutions in Ottawa gave the presentation at Franciscan Earth Literacy Center. His company installed the solar panels outside the Little Portion Green straw bale house nearby.
Before discussing alternative energy options, Klear emphasized the importance of reducing electrical usage. That included increasing energy efficiency and decreasing energy use. Having a household energy audit done would be helpful. But simply buying LED lights to replace incandescent bulbs -- and CFLs -- can reduce electrical draw significantly.
These audits can cost several hundred dollars, but AEP customers can get a price break -- owners of all-electric homes can get an energy audit for as little as $50.
Cutting back on electric usage is an obvious way to cut your electric bill. But it also can save money if you add a renewable energy source -- wind, solar or geothermal.
That's because reducing your electrical demand would reduce the size of the renewable energy system needed.
While prices are falling, and efficiency of photovoltaic panels is rising, these systems still are pricy. One sized for a typical residence costs about as much as a new family sedan. State sales tax breaks and federal income tax credits help, but financing a system over 5 years would leave you with monthly payments far exceeding your current electric bill.
For now, at least. Five or 10 years from now, who knows?
But cutting down on kilowatt hours -- that can be done by everyone, everywhere, now.
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