LESLIE: We’ve got Cindy in Michigan on the line who wants to talk about reducing energy costs. How can we help you?
CINDY: Is there a way to lower your electric bills by generating your own electricity? I’ve heard of solar panels and windmills and seems like they cost a lot of money to get them going. And I’m wondering, is it actually feasible, financially, to do something like that?
TOM: Yeah. Well, first of all, the most effective way to cut those energy costs – and especially if we’re talking about heating and cooling energy – is to improve the energy efficiency of your home. And the single most important way or easiest way to do that is by improving insulation. It’s amazing how many people simply don’t have enough insulation. And in a state like Michigan, you’re certainly going to want to have 15 to 20 inches of insulation in your attic.
Now, as to your question about generating your own power, there are some programs that are run by state governments and by utility suppliers that include different sorts of rebates and different sorts of purchase – I don’t want to say “schemes” but sort of plans for getting that equipment to your house.
So, for example, in my part of the country, they have offers where you don’t actually pay for the initial installation. You partner with an energy company that does the installation of solar panels and then as it generates energy, you get to keep some of that and some of that goes back to the utility company and eventually it pays off the cost of that installation. So I would investigate solar programs in your area and rebates that might be available. Start with the utility companies and go from there.
Because if there’s a favorable program, that’s the only way it makes them cost-effective. You are correct in that a lot of these things are very expensive and don’t make a lot of economic sense. But if there’s rebate money available – either locally, at the state level or federally – it does make sense.
CINDY: OK. So you would just call your energy company then?
TOM: I would start there, with your utility company or just simply do some research online for rebates that are available in your area. OK, Cindy?
CINDY: Alright. Thank you.