75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Costs — Without Replacing Your HVAC System

(Most Ways Save $ Year-Round — As They Also Lower Heating Bills)

Al’s Plumbing, in Plano, Texas Provides Full-Service Plumbing; Maintenance, Repairs, and Replacements For Every Plumbing Component In Your Home.  We service all homes in southern Collin County, TX and northeastern Dallas County, Texas.  Al’s is near your home in; northeast Dallas, TX; Garland, TX; and Richardson, Texas. 

Call Al’s Today To Discuss Any Concerns Or Problems You Have With Your Home’s Plumbing. 

We will arrange an appointment at your convenience.

75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Costs — Without Replacing Your HVAC System

central air conditioner outside unit

Image Source: Dreamstime

What’s Discussed In Part-1 Of Our 9-Part Article:

The 4 Best Ways To Lower Cooling Bills (& electric heating) Bills In Texas

  • 1. Finding The Lowest-Priced Electricity Retailer (Texas).
  • 2. Installing a Programmable or Smart Thermostat.
  • 3. Testing Ductwork For Leaks. 
  • 4. Sealing Ductwork Air Leaks.

What’s Discussed In Part-2:

Ductwork Sealing – Continued:

  • Ductwork Sealing Products — Durability Test Results.
  • Aerosol Ductwork Sealing (for existing ductwork) — seals from inside the ductwork.
  • Mastic Ductwork Sealing (for new ductwork) — seals from inside the ductwork.
  • Typical Home Air Leakage — Shown By Decade The Home Was Built

What’s Discussed In Part-3:

  • Where Homes Leak (the most) Air
  • How To Close The Holes To Lower Lower Cooling ExpensesNOTE: Continued in Part-4.
  • PLUS The products needed to seal the most common leaks are shown.

What’s Discussed In Part-4:

  Where Homes Leak (the most) Air — Continued. 

  • Exterior Doors
  • Pocket Doors (slide into the wall)
  • Windows
  • Electrical Outlets & Switches.
  • PLUS: The Products Needed To Seal The Most Common Air Leaks.

What’s Discussed In Part-5:

  • Home Resident’s Actions That Contribute To Air Leakage.  

What’s Discussed In Part-6:

  • Home Air Leakage & (Texas) Insulation Levels Over The Years. 

What’s Discussed In Part-7:

  • HVAC System Maintenance

What’s Discussed In Part-8:

  • Energy Saving Habits That Lower Cooling Costs

What’s Discussed In Part-9:

  • Energy Saving Opportunites That Lower Cooling & Heating Costs 

WHY Texans Can Expect To Pay 10%+ Higher Cooling Bills In 2023

44% Of Texas’ Electricity Is Generated Using Natural Gas. 

These World Events Caused Dramatic Natural Gas Price Increases During 2022

When Russia invaded Ukraine, they cut off natural gas supplies to Europe — in response to Europe’s Economic Sanctions imposed on Russia.   Europe turned to the worldwide natural gas market for natural gas supplies for the winter.  This caused a huge jump in demand for U.S. natural gas exports.

electricity generating power plant

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: Traditional Power Plant

About 45% Of Texas’ Electricity Is Generated Using Natural Gas

Texas 12-Month Residential Contract Residential Electricity Rate — Per kWh (Based On 1,000 kWh Usage):

  • In Feb. 2022, the lowest DFW electricity rate = 9.5 cents per kWh.
  • This was just before Russia invaded Ukraine.
  • Then Russia cut off Natural Gas Exports to Europe.
  • In June 2022, the lowest DFW rate = 13.7 cents per kWh.
  • The +44% increase was largely due to dramatically increased Natural Gas Exports from the U.S. to Europe.
  • In March 2023, the lowest rate = 10.3 cents per kWh.
  • This is a +10.3% increase over Feb. 2022
  • This decrease is likely due to dramatically lower natural gas exports to Europe in the spring.
  • Based on last year — in around June Europe will begin buying natural gas for the upcoming 2023-2024 heating season.



Texas Electricity Prices Are Heavily Affected By Natural Gas Prices

  • Electricity-Generating Plants Qualify For Industrial Natural Gas Prices.
  • In Jan 2022, Texas Industrial Natural Gas Price ($ per 1,000 cubic feet of gas) =$5.69
  • In Jan 2023, Texas Industrial Natural Gas Price ($ per 1,000 cubic feet of gas) =$6.52
  • 1-Year Industrial Natural Gas Price Increase = +14.5% compared to Jan 2022 price.



  • After the Feb. 2021 Texas power grid failures, the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) required substantially more Reserve-Generation Capacity.
  • Purchase costs for the additional generation equipment also added to electricity price increases.
  • Nearly 2/3 of Texas residences have Electric Heat.


Residential Natural Gas Prices & Heating Costs Also Spiked In 2022 (compared to 2021)

Texas Residential Gas Bills ($ per 1,000 Cubic Feet):

NA       2022                    2021

NA       January               $10.99

11.98   Feb                        $8.89

13.07  March                    $9.64

17.42   April                    $14.45

25.12   May                     $17.01

27.75   June                    $20.36    +36.3%

29.68  July                     $22.56     +13.1%

33.69  August                $24.58    +37.0%

31.90  September         $24.87     +9.4%

26.54  October              $23.29     +8.8%

17.10   November          $16.16     +5.8%

16.04  December          $19.10    +19.1%


  • After the Feb. 2021 Texas power grid failures.  New Requirements for Texas Natural Gas Providers To Weatherize were implemented.
  • The Feb. 2021 power grid failure was caused, in part, by frozen natural gas lines equipment.
  • Under the new rules — gas utilities can pass the additional winterizing costs to consumers.
  • About 45% of Texas electricity is generated using natural gas. 


The 4 Best Ways To Lower Cooling Bills

(& electric heating) Bills In Texas


1. In Texas: Finding The Lowest-Priced Electricity Provider (Electricity Retailer)

1970's built home

Image Source: Shutterstock

Texas Cooling & Heating — Represent 41% Of Total Residential Energy Bills

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency:

  • Texas Cooling & Heating Costs = 41% of total residential energy bills.
  • Texas cooling costs = 19%.
  • Texas heating costs = 22%.
  • The reason that heating costs exceed cooling costs — is because nearly 2/3 of Texas homes have electric heat.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau: *4

  • 61% of Texas residences have electric heating.
  • This includes single-family homes and multi-family homes (apartments, condos & townhomes — with shared walls between units).
  • 35% of Texas residences have Natural Gas heating.  These are likely only single-family homes.

electricity transmission lines

Image Source: Shutterstock

How To Find The Lowest-Priced Electricity Retailer In DFW

In Texas — consumers choose from a number of Providers (Electricity Retailers).  The electricity all comes from the same sources and travels to your home on the same wires.  The only difference is the Electricity Provider / Retailer you choose to buy from.

There are several Electricity Prices Comparison Resources. 

We Discuss Only Allows You To:

  • Select your monthly kWh usage (500 kWh / 1,000 kWh / 2000+ kWh).  Details about this are within this section.
  • See all Providers (for your kWh usage).
  • Providers are ranked from Lowest to Highest price per kWh.
  • You can click on a link to read the “Electricity Facts Label“. (EFL)
  • The EFL is in a standardized format — to allow you to easily compare details.


  • For Each Provider – you can see their percentage that’s Renewable (wind or solar generated).
  • You can also set the results to only 100% Renewable..

TIP: In 2022 Texas was #1 For Wind & Solar Generated Electricity. 

So, 100% Renewable Electricity Rates — are similar to plans with no or low renewables. 

In March 2023:

  • The lowest price for 2,000 kWh = 10.1 cents / kWh (with 6% renewable).   
  • The lowest price for 2,000 kWh = 10.3 cents / kWh. (with 100% renewable).
  • On — You can click on a link to read the “Electricity Facts Label“. (EFL)
  • The EFL is in a standardized format — to allow you to easily compare details.

Which kWh Rate Should You Be Searching For?

  • There are 3 (monthly) kWh Rates: 500 Or 1000 Or 2000 kWh Rates.
  • These kWh rates have different prices.
  • To Determine Your kWh Rate — It’s best to average the past 12 months’ consumption.

TIP:  You can typically go online with your current provider — and look at your billing history.  The bills show how many kWh were used each month.

TIP:  If You Can’t Get Your Consumption History — It’s stated that Texan’s average usage rate = 1,140 kWh per month.

TIP:  One source said the average electricity consumption for an apartment in Texas is 863 kWh per month.  Nearly all Texas apartments have electric heating.

TIP: In DFW — Oncor Delivers All Electricity 

(Other areas of Texas have different Electricity-Delivery companies.)

electricity distribution lines with transformers

Image Source: Shutterstock

  • Texans choose only their Electricity Provider (retailer).
  • Regardless of the Electricity Provider — all electricity comes from the same sources and is delivered on the same wires.
  • DFW Oncor’s Rate = $3.42 Monthly Charge  PLUS  3.59 cents per kWh (rounded up slightly).
  • Oncor’s Rate is the same regardless of the Provider you choose. 
  • Oncor’s charges are in addition to the Provider’s (per kWh) price.

TIP: The Prices Shown On — Include Oncor’s (per kWh) rate.

End Of The Electricity Providers Section (For Texas Only).

2. Automatic Setback OR Smart Thermostat

TIP: These Thermostats Are Energy-Savers Only If — There Are Times Each Day When Cooling or Heating Can Be (regularly) Reduced.

  • These thermostats can reduce cooling/heating demand — while you’re at work, or sleeping.
  • Then they reset to the temperature you want — at the time you chose.

Image Source: Embedded Link 

SHOWN: 2 Adjustments / Day Programmable Thermostat

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From

Programmable/Smart Thermostats are inexpensive and easy to install.   These thermostats adjust your home’s temperature cooler or warmer at the times you program it to.  Once programmed — the thermostat needs no further attention.

Smart Thermostats Have Additional Features & Abilities (over programmable) 

TIP: Most Smart-Thermostat Brands Have Identical Features.

Image Source: Embedded Link 

SHOWN: The Nest Thermostat (Since 2014 Nest Is Owned By Google).

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From

Thermostat Color Shown Here Is Dark Gray (other colors available).

The Google-Nest Smart Thermostat’s Buyer Satisfaction Rating Score = 4.5 Stars (out of 5) — with over 30,000 buyer reviews on Amazon alone.

Click Here To Learn More About The Google-Nest Thermostat: Google-Nest Smart Thermostat

A Smart Thermostat Can Do Things — A Programmable Thermostat Can’t Do.


  • Google-Nest learns & remembers your cooling & heating preferences — by tracking the temps you set the thermostat to over a few days.
  • Then, Nest Programs Itself. 
  • You can also choose to program it.
  • Nest learns how long it takes for your HVAC System to restore the home’s temperature.
  • Then, each day Nest goes online to get the outdoor temperature.
  • Nest starts cooling/heating only soon enough to reach your desired temperature at the desired time.
  • This feature can save more energy than a programmable thermostat (details just below).

As Compared To A Programmable Thermostat:

  • A Programmable Thermostat adjusts the temperature at the time you selected — regardless of the outdoor temp.
  • During mild weather, this can lead to increase energy usage — because the house’s temperature is adjusted sooner than needed.
  • During hotter/colder weather,  this can lead to a house that’s too warm/cool — because the HVAC System didn’t have enough time.
  • In summer — Nest can be set to sense and help reduce indoor humidity levels (using the A/C).
  • You can adjust Google-Nest through its APP and at the thermostat.
  • You can also adjust Google-Nest by speaking to it through an Amazon Alexa device (shown just below).
  • TIP: Amazon Alexa compatible — is also available on some other smart thermostat brands.
  • Nest can notify your cell phone if the home’s temp gets too high or too low — indicating a possible shutdown of the HVAC system.
  • This is a valuable feature in the northern U.S. — where a furnace breakdown can lead to frozen water pipes.

Image Source: Link

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from

Shown: Amazon Alexa Device (many other choices are also availalbe).


Testing HVAC Ductwork For Air Leaks

 TIP: Ductwork Leakage Testing — Is Typically Included As Part Of Ductwork Sealing Service.

TIP: Many Ductwork Cleaning Services also offer Ductwork Sealing.

TIP: Clean ductwork before sealing it with airborne sealant.  Dust inside the ductwork may interfere with airborne sealant flowing through the leaks.

ductwork for hvac system

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: Metal Ductwork

According To The U.S. Department Of Energy (DOE)

Typical Existing HVAC Ductwork Leaks Up To Nearly 1/4 Of The Air Traveling Through It.

 TIP: When Ductwork Is Inside The Attic — Leaked Cooled / Heated Air Is Lost.

 TIP: Also, Leaking Attic Ductwork Creates A “vacuum” Inside The Home.  To Replace The Air Lost In The Attic — Outdoor Air Enters The Home (through its air leaks).

Outdoor Air Is Hotter/Colder Than The Indoor Air That Was Lost.  Outdoor Air Also Has; Allergens, Dust, Humidity, & Air Pollutants.

So, Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality Is Lowered.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: Flexible Ductwork

This YouTube Video Demonstrates How Much Ductwork Air Leakage Is Determined.

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video Link.

Shown: Testing Ductwork For Air Leakage.

Existing Ductwork:

  • Most Ductwork Sealing Companies test for leakage before & after sealing.
  • Existing ductwork leaks up to 22% of the air that you paid to cool or heat.
  • Sealing ductwork can lower your cooling & heating bills by up to 1/4 — and improve Indoor Air Quality.

Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

As Compared: New Ductwork In Today’s Newly-Built Homes:

  • If Ductwork Is Inside The Living Space — maximum acceptable ductwork leakage = 3%. **
  • If Ductwork Is Outside The Living Space (like in an attic) — maximum acceptable leakage = 2%. **
  • All new homes are required to have their ductwork tested — to ensure the ductwork meets today’s Air-Leakage Building Codes.

WHY Ductwork Air Leaks Exist

  • Prior to April 2011 — Texas did not require ductwork leakage testing in newly-built homes.
  • Starting in 2009 — the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) began requiring ductwork testing in newly-built homes.
  • In April 2011 — Texas adopted the 2009 IECC.
  • April 2011 was when Texas began to require ductwork leakage testing in newly-built homes.


  • Ductwork Lifespan:  As it ages, ductwork typically leaks increasing amounts of air. 

If You Check 20 Different Websites — you can 20 different opinions about how long ductwork lasts.

The Environment where ductwork is located will affect it.  This can create leaks not present when the ductwork was installed.

  • A Basement remains around 55 degrees year-round.
  • During Winter: An attic in Dallas can reach as low as 10 degrees.
  • During Summer: A Dallas attic can reach as high as 170 degrees.
  • Flex Duct has a 10-Year Warranty from most manufacturers.
  • It’s safe to say that Flex Duct lasts longer in a basement — than in a Dallas, Texas attic, with a temp range of 20-170 degrees.
  • It’s best to replace Flex Duct, each time the HVAC System is replaced.
  • Periodic Ductwork Inspections can find and repair problems.

How Long Does Sheet-Metal Ductwork Last? 

After hours of searching the internet – the following information about lifespan estimates for metal ductwork was discovered.

  • HVAC Ductwork Is Made Of Mild Steel.  It’s a very versatile material that’s used in thousands of applications around the world.
  • Mild steel is almost 100% iron.
  • Mild steel is highly vulnerable to corrosion when in contact with moisture.
  • So, mild steel sheet-metal is galvanized to help protect it from corroding.

TIP: If Ductwork Is Slightly To Somewhat Corroded — Airborne Sealant Will Close The Holes In The Corroded Areas.


  • The Performance Of Galvanized Sheet-Metal (exposed to air) Depends On 4 Factors.
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Sulfur Dioxide (air pollution) concentration
  • Air Salinity (how much salt is in the air).


  • It takes 97 years for rust to cover 5% percent of Galvanized Sheet-Metal’s surface (95% of the surface is still covered by galvanizing)                                    in a “Suburban Environment” such as Minneapolis, MN or Orlando, FL.
  • Add +3 years if the sheet metal is in a “Rural Environment” (low air pollution) — such as Fargo, ND or Las Cruces, New Mexico.
  • Subtract -11 years in a “Marine Environment” (mixture of bodies of fresh & saltwater nearby) — such as Seattle, WA or Charleston, SC.
  • Subtract -21 years in a “Tropical Marine Environment” (near the ocean, and high salinity in the air) — such as Miami, FL.
  • Subtract -25 years in an “Industrial Environment” (notable amounts of air pollution) — such as; Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, & Atlanta, GA


Using The Numbers Above — In DFW, Sheet Metal Ductwork Could Last Up To 72 years

97 years – 25 years (for Dallas’ Industrial Environment).

Because UNinsulated Sheet-Metal Ductwork Often Sweats During DFW Summer — Its Lifespan May Be Further Reduced.

The reason metal ductwork sweats is because the Metal’s Outside Surface Temperature Is Below the Surrounding Air’s Dew Point.

Freshly Cooled Air’s Average Temp (coming from the furnace) Should Be -17.5 Degrees Lower Than Home’s Indoor Air Temp.

Example: 70 Degrees (home’s indoor air’s temp) -17.5 Degrees = 52.5 Degrees (surface temp of metal ductwork while a/c runs).

In May Through September — DFW’s Average Dew Point Is Around 75 Degrees.  So ductwork sweating is inevitable.


TIP: Metal Ductwork with Insulation & A Vapor-Retarder — is unlikely to sweat in a DFW attic.

Click Here To See Metal Ductwork With Insulation & Vapor-Retarder: Metal Ductwork With Insulation & Vapor-Retarder

If Link Doesn’t Work — Copy This Below Into Your Browser


TIP: Flexible Ductwork Is Manufactured With Insulation & Vapor Barrier.

Image Source: Link

Shown: Typical Flexible Ductwork (the outer silver wrap is the Vapor-Retarder).

Nealy All Ductwork Sealants Fail & Create Ductwork Air Leaks

Much Sooner Than Metal Ductwork

1970's built home

Image Source: Shutterstock

Most Older Texas Homes Ductwork Sealing Products Failed In A Short Time

(If Ductwork Sealing Was Performed At All) 

Berkley Labs Determined Only 2 Ductwork Sealing Products Have Acceptable & Long Lifespans

Before today’s Mastic Ductwork Sealant was widely adopted — Ductwork Sealing Products Failed With In A Short Time. 

  • Aerosol (brand name) Sealant — To Seal Existing ductwork. 
  • TIP: There are other brands of Ductwork Sealant which work much the same way as Aerosol brand.
  • (Underwriter’s Labs) UL181B-M Rated Mastic — To Seal NEW ductwork installations. 

Source: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

Aerosol Brand Sealant Is Ideal For Sealing Existing Ductwork Air Leaks

Issues with Existing Ductwork Being Sealed With Mastic.

  • Because Mastic is applied on the exterior — All exterior surfaces would need a thorough cleaning before sealing with Mastic
  • It’s likely that there are areas (mostly on the underneath side) where access is too limited to properly seal with Mastic.
  • It’s likely that the labor charges, to seal existing ductwork with Mastic, would notably exceed the cost of Aeroseal.

Aerosol (brand) Sealant is injected inside existing ductwork — under slightly higher air pressure than a furnace blower creates.

  • Aerosol sealant remains airborne until it reaches an air leak.
  • There the sealant is forced through the leak.
  • In a short time, more and more sealant sticks to the surfaces around the leak – until the leak becomes sealed.
  • TIP: The inside surface of the ductwork Does Not Become Covered with Aeroseal’s product.
  • The Sealant collects only where air is leaking from the ductwork.
  • The Sealant does not prevent future ductwork cleaning.
  • TIP: Have ductwork cleaned before using airborne ductwork sealant.   
  • Many companies offer both Cleaning & Sealing — in the same trip.  Sealing is performed once cleaning is completed.

TIP: This article’s author had ductwork cleaned & sealed with airborne sealant — in a 42-year-old home.  A short time later, an Energy-Audit was performed (included ductwork testing).  The Energy Audit included ductwork air leaks testing and confirmed the ductwork was sealed.

UL181B-M Rated Mastic Sealant Is Ideal For Sealing NewlyInstalled Ductwork Air Leaks

  • Texas Building codes align with the Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC).
  • The UMC details requirements for new mechanical equipment installations in both new and existing homes.
  • The UMC includes HVAC Systems.

It’s Safe To Assume Any Local Building Codes:

  • Require a Licensed HVAC Contractor.
  • A Permit must be issued (from the City) before work can begin.
  • The Permit triggers City Inspections (after work is completed) — to ensure the installation meets Building Codes.

This YouTube Video Demonstrates What Mastic Looks Like After Installation.  Mastic is excellent for sealing ductwork air leaks

3. Seal Ductwork Air Leaks (In Texas Homes Built Before 2012) — As Needed

Testing HVAC Ductwork Leakage — Should Be Performed Before & After Ductwork Sealing.

(This Allows A Way To Measure Air-Leakage Reduction.)

TIP: Before You Choose A Contractor To Seal Ductwork — Ask If They Test Leakage Before & After Sealing.

ductwork for hvac system

Image Source: Shutterstock

Leaking Attic Ductwork Increases Cooling & Heating Costs In 2 Ways

  • The furnace removes more air from the house than it returns to the house — due to air leaked from the ductwork.
  • To replace the air (leaked from ductwork into the attic) — the furnace pulls outdoor air into the house (through the house’s air leaks).

Seal Ductwork To Lower Cooling Bills By Up To 1/4 

  • Typical Forced-air HVAC System Ductwork leaks up to 22% of all air going through ductwork. **
  • When Ductwork Is Inside The Living Space: In Newly-Built Homes — Maximum ductwork leakage cannot exceed 3%. ***
  • When Ductwork Is Outside The Living Space (like in an attic): In Newly-Built Homes — Maximum ductwork leakage cannot exceed 2%. ***

** Source:

*** Source:



 Testing HVAC Ductwork For Air Leaks-1 

This is Part-1 Of Our Article Details Testing Ductwork For Air Leaks — as part of a multi-part article with 75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Bills Without Replacing Your HVAC System. 

Al’s Plumbing, in Plano, Texas Provides Full-Service Plumbing; Maintenance, Repairs, and Replacements For Every Plumbing Component In Your Home.  We service all homes in southern Collin County, TX and northeastern Dallas County, Texas.  Al’s is near your home in; Murphy, TX; Rowlette, TX; and Wylie, Texas. 

Call Al’s Today To Discuss Any Concerns Or Problems You Have With Your Home’s Plumbing. 

We will arrange an appointment at your convenience.