MOLINE, Ill. — As the seasons change, it'll soon be time to turn off the air conditioner and fire up the furnace.
According to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, families are expected to pay an average of 17.2% more than they paid last year for residential heating this coming season.
In 2022, with the strain placed on the global gas supply resulting from the Russo-Ukrainian war, among other factors, Quad Cities residents have a number of options available to them in order to enhance their home's energy efficiency.
First, it's important to explain where the need to optimize energy efficiency stems from.
Why are energy costs rising?
"There's just not enough energy that's available to meet the demand," said Tucker Kennedy, Director of Communications at Ameren Illinois. We've seen increased demand coming out of the pandemic, businesses are improving, industrial production is up."
"Because of the situation with Russia, their Eastern European countries are not accepting exports from Russia," he added. "And so a lot of our natural gas that's being produced domestically is being exported to those Eastern European countries."
"Gas prices are always a volatile market... global events right now can impact [energy consumption], that we know, Russia is a big gas provider to the world. And so where gas is coming from now can change the pricing... and so we're going to see more demand on something that's in less supply, I would expect to see gas prices jumping pretty significantly," Andrew Snyder, residential HVAC project manager at Quad-Cities based Crawford Company, explained.
What's national trends are working to combat rising energy costs?
"We're expecting some federal changes in regulation to step in and increase energy efficiency throughout the country...," said Snyder. "We've seen communities and states start making moves to limit gas furnaces; New York City, Berkeley, LA and then just recently, the state of California, moving to try to outlaw in some form, gas furnaces."
"We're expecting things like heat pumps and electric heating options to really become a lot more affordable. Up front, there is a pretty stark jump between an air conditioner and a heat pump today. "
Josh O'Dell, owner of O'Dells Heating & Air agrees with Snyder, saying, "The best thing to do because of fuel costs is a heat pump... it cools [and heats] your home."
One of the best energy-saving options for consumers today is converting from a furnace to a heat pump. Some heat pumps are capable of providing both heating and cooling for residential properties, resulting in greater overall energy efficiency.
What can Quad Cities residents do to mitigate the effects of rising energy costs?
"If you're comfortable in your home to set the temperature one degree [higher or lower], one-degree change makes a world of difference," Schneider suggests.
"Make sure that behind your trim, around your windows is insulated. If not, use some sort of foam. And even just caulking around the trim and anywhere that air can get through," O'Dell explained.
"The single best way that a customer these days can mitigate these higher supply price issues is to use less energy," Kennedy said.
Take an energy efficiency assessment through your energy provider
MidAmerican Energy customers can click here to learn more about obtaining a free home energy assessment.
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