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Energy efficient houseUtility bills continue to creep up in most parts of the country. According to “Newsday,” Some U.S. electric customers faced a $17 per household increase in just one month recently, and California homeowners faced an average 71 percent increase in their electric bill in 2013, according to “ABC News.” The story is the same in most parts of the United States. Never has it been more important to find ways to lower those electric bills and save energy. It’s no different here in Sonoma and Marin Counties. Fortunately, Spyrka Electric can advise you on simple things you can do that will have a big impact on your utility bill.

Below are just a few things to help you save some money:

1. Get a whole house energy evaluation. A licensed electrician can walk with you through your entire house and point out places where you are losing energy and where you can save on your electric bill. Some cities and counties even have money available to reimburse you for qualifying energy-saving fixes. It pays to call a licensed electrician and set up an appointment.

2. Seal the cracks and gaps. Sealing your house doesn’t just help save on your heating bill. Making sure that the cooled air doesn’t escape during the summer months can make a big impact on your electric bill. According to “Consumer Reports,” just this one fix can save between 15 and 30 percent on your combined utility bills.

3. Wrap your water heater. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household spends 15 percent of its utility budget on heating water. A large part of that is wasted energy, caused by having a 20 to 80-gallon tank of water kept hot at all times, even when you’re at work or sleeping. A licensed electrician can help you wrap your tank with a special blanket, so that it takes less electricity to warm the water.

4. Better yet: invest in a tankless heater. Better even than wrapping your water heater is investing in a tankless heater. These units hang on the wall and heat the water on demand as it passes through a series of super-heated coils. A licensed electrician can install a tankless heater in an afternoon.

5. Use cold water to wash your clothes. Washing your laundry in cold water is fine for all but the dirtiest clothes. Using hot water adds another $60 to your annual utility bills, depending on the size of your family.

6. Invest in a programmable thermostat. Another energy saver that your licensed electrician can help you with is installing a programmable thermostat. This affordable device can turn down the air conditioning when you’re due home from work so that you don’t have to cool the house while you’re away.

7. Unplug your chargers and other electrical devices. This last tip won’t cost you a dime and it can save you up to $100 per year, according to “Consumer Reports.” Unplugging those phone chargers and other appliances when they aren’t in use can save you enough to take your family out to a nice dinner at the end of the year. Putting your computer in “sleep” mode when it’s not in use is another energy saver, advises our licensed electrician friend.

Making your home more energy efficient and saving your family money on your monthly electric bill doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Start by calling a licensed electrician to help you scout out the areas that will save you the most and gradually work your way around the house. The money you save on your electric bill will more than pay for the service call from the licensed electrician.

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