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Wittman: Tips available on reducing electricity bills

It feels like a double whammy. No, make that a quadruple whammy.

Our average grocery bill has gone up – a lot. Our car insurance just went up about 10 percent, even though we have clean driving records. We’re paying more for our health insurance, too. Now electric companies are raising their rates, too.

It seems rising prices are a fact of life in the current economy.

But you don’t have to feel helpless in the fight to keep your bills down, particularly when it comes to your energy bill. There are many low-cost and even no-cost ways to reduce your energy usage, and there are many Web sites that can help you get started.

Let’s start with light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are an easy, relatively cheap way to shave kilowatts off your bill. They cost a little bit more than traditional incandescent lightbulbs, but they last up to 10 times longer and use 75 percent less energy.

Some are afraid to install CFLs because they contain mercury. While it’s true that CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, it’s completely harmless in the bulb. If you break the bulb, you must dispose of it as you would any item containing mercury. (For point of reference, household thermostats contain as much or more mercury than CFLs.) Go to eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm to learn more about using CFLs and how to dispose of them.

An investment in something as simple as weatherization around doors and windows can make a big difference, too. The U.S. Department of Energy Web site at energy.gov also has great energy efficiency information and resources for homes and businesses.

Energyguide.com has a calculator to help you determine where you’re using the most energy and gives you ideas on how to reduce it. It also features a contractor and supplier database to help you with bigger projects.

Finally, there’s Energystar.gov, which can help you identify the most energy efficient appliances for your home or business.

Romi Carrell Wittman is a writer and the communication services director for Trico Electric Cooperative. E-mail: romi.wittman@comcast.net.

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