Keeping Electricity Costs Down

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Electricity costs could be hurting your wallet this summer. As temperatures increase outside, air conditioners run even more, and electricity bills rise. That's why home builders are looking to new ways to keep costs down for the consumer.

As new home construction booms in the Brazos Valley, so does the consumer's desire for a more cost efficient house.

"Our customers are much, much more aware as well as concerned of rising energy costs," local home builder Randall Pitcock said.

Pitcock is a former President of the Bryan-College Station Home Builders Association. He and other builders are acutely aware of the need for energy efficient homes.

"That's our biggest goal to stop that heat transfer and cooling gains during the wintertime," Pitcock said.

So home builders are using materials that will save home owners money.

"We use a thicker or higher R value fiber glass bat. This white loose filled insulation is what we use in attics and it seals a little better than the bat insulation in an attic it seals around light cans and air conditioner ducts and those types of products," Pitcock said.

Besides thicker insulation home builders are turning to foil reflecting material on exterior walls and roofs.

"We get that little bit of R value and we also get that radiant heat barrier and we're using the same application on the roof deck and so if you've got the foil turned down then it helps reflect that heat, keeps your attic anywhere from 20 to 40 degrees cooler in the dead of summer," Pitcock said.

Low-E windows are also being installed to block out UV rays along with vinyl frame windows to stop the transfer of heat. And homeowners are seeing good results.

"Utilities are much more under control people are moving into new homes and they are larger by sometimes as much as 1,000 square feet and their utility bills are going down because of the energy efficiency of the construction of the home," Pitcock said.

If you are not in the market to build a home, there are things you can do now to keep electricity costs down. Bryan Texas Utilities recommends starting with your thermostat.

"A good setting is 78 degrees and every degree that you go higher, you can save up to 8-percent on your air conditioning costs," Tim Kiersz with BTU said.

Other tips include using portable fans. They have a four degree cooling effect. Caulking windows from the outside, and weather stripping your doors. He also recommends running your air conditioner for 10-15 minutes, and cleaning your refrigerator coil. Your refrigerator makes up 13 percent of your entire bill, so Kiersz recommends taking the back off of the appliance and vacuuming the coil.