Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the September 3, 2003

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Audit Your Own Energy Bill

You can defend yourself against energy bills that are

supposed to skyrocket this winter, an estimated 19 percent for natural

gas and 45 percent for heating oil, according to Smart Money magazine.

Here’s how a website can help you do an online energy audit.

Go to the PSE&G website ( for an online energy audit

powered by Massachusetts-based Nexus Energy Software


and click on residential customer service and NJ Energy Smart. Fill

out a form about the number of rooms in your house, describe your

appliances (type and size), and what your bills are.

You get an animated picture of a house showing all your utility


Mouse over each appliance (television, humidifier, whatever) and the

pop-up box tells you the monthly cost. It also tells what you would

save with any of the following: replacing an appliance, switching

light bulb types, buying a new furnace or air conditioning unit, or

installing siding.

Under an old house scenario, using the PSE&G’s website figures for

a furnace more than 15 years old, it would cost about $1,800 to $3,000

to install a new 68,200 to 113,700 BTU gas forced-air furnace. Savings

would be $150 to $250 per year or $3,100-$5,000 over the lifetime.

Under a middle ground scenario with a furnace 15 years old the same

furnace would save $50 to $809 a year for an annual savings of $1,000

to $1,700.

Under a scenario where the furnace was less than 10 years old, there

would be no savings to replace the furnace.

To take another example, upgrading an old top door 20-foot fridge

with a similar one, costing from $500 to $800, would save $35 to $60

annually, or $700.

This is the kind of information you need before you head out to Sears

or Mrs. G’s to squint at those big yellow stickers.

New Jersey and the federal government also have helpful websites


and New Jersey sponsors plain paper energy audits that are sent and

returned by snail mail.

But it’s the easy things, such as compact fluorescent bulbs, that

deserve more attention. They use 66 percent less energy and last up

to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs, saving $30 in energy cost

over the life of the bulb. These bulbs can even be used in


fixtures and in quality fixtures for office buildings.

Compact fluorescent bulbs will soon get lots of attention. Starting

this month, through the end of the year, the New Jersey Board of


Utilities is participating in a nationwide discount program —

reduced prices on Energy Star (energy efficient) lighting products.

Buy products marked "Price discounted, courtesy of the New Jersey

Clean Energy Program etc. etc.") at such retailers as Home Depot,

Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and at supermarkets. Because the retailers

have already receive their discount, you don’t need any coupons.

— Barbara Fox

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