Last summer I made several improvements and modifications on my home to increase energy efficiency. Wanted to report on how it turned out.

My home is a 1985 model 54'x14' manufactured home (please don't call it a "trailer"). The air conditioner/heat pump is outside at the east end, with ducts running under the floor. The kitchen and living room are at the west end. That end of the house is the hottest in the summer for several reasons: the brutal afternoon sun, cold air from the A/C has the farthest to travel, and the gas oven and old refrigerator gave off heat constantly.

SRP averages out my electricity usage so the bill is the same every month. Five years ago we were paying $130/month. My late husband painted the house white and coated the roof with white elastomeric roof coat. A few months before he died he replaced the big west-facing kitchen window with a super insulated double-pane window.

Electronic devices draw power all the time, even when not in use. All the devices in my entertainment center (TV, stereo receiver, DVD player) are plugged into a surge protecter, which is switched OFF when not in use. These changes reduced our bill to $120/month, but the kitchen still got HOT.

Two years ago I replaced the 60-watt incandescent bulbs with 12-watt LEDs. When my dog ate the remote for my old TV, I replaced it (the TV, not the dog) with a 26" LED LCD TV. Reduced the bill to $115/month.

Last May, I remodeled the kitchen to hopefully cool it off and make it easier on my back. For my back, I put in IKEA drawers under the counter instead of cabinets. Got rid of the gas range and oven. I've never needed four burners simultaneously in my entire life, and only used the oven rarely, so out it went. This gave me a lot more usable countertop and storage space, with no more pilot light heating the room all the time.

I now use a portable induction cooktop for cooking. Induction heats as fast as gas, uses about 90% less electricity than regular electric coils, and produces no extraneous heat. I love it! I replaced the oven with a Calphalon countertop convection oven. I chose the Calphalon because reviewers said it didn't make their kitchen hot. They were right. It's the only countertop oven I've ever used that doesn't get scalding hot on the outside. And it bakes very well.

My old refrigerator had coils all up and down the back. Those coils produced more heat than the oven did. I replaced it with a refurbished side-by-side without an ice maker. It looks brand new. Sans ice maker, it has a lot of room in the freezer, is very quiet and produces almost no heat.

SRP paid me $100 for my old refrigerator. The new refrigerator cost $285. The induction cooktop is a $200 model that I got on Craigslist for $25. The Calphalon oven cost $200. Electric bill went down to $105/month.

Last June, just after the kitchen was finished, a leaking water pipe from my hot water heater caused a lot of damage to my bedroom. The house needed a full repipe. Working under the house, my plumber discovered that a lot of the insulation had fallen down and there was a leaking air duct that was losing about 40% of my cold and heated air.

My handyman sealed the air duct. An insulation company repaired the insulation, replacing sections of it as necessary. This insulated my new water pipes. Then they installed a clean new belly board under the entire house. I covered the hot water heater with a blanket. This cost approx $1000. All these changes took place last September/October.

A grapevine I planted on the west end of the house has finally grown large enough to shade most of the west wall and kitchen window. All these things combined, the kitchen is now comfortable even on the hottest afternoons, and my A/C isn't having to work as hard to keep the house cool.

This July was hotter than last July. My energy use is way down. Starting next month my electric bill is only going to be $60 per month! All these energy improvements will pay for themselves within a few years. Plus, now that it doesn't have to work so hard, my A/C will hopefully last longer before needing to be replaced.

So, check your insulation and your ducts. Switch to LED lighting. Consider switching to induction cooking. Plug your electronic appliances into surge protectors, and keep them switched off when not in use. It all adds up.