Chattanooga's EPB Energy Pros help you save on your electric bill

City utility offers free audits of energy use in your home, advice on upgrades

EPB / John Watts heads the Energy Pros at EPB. They help homeowners find ways to lower their electric bills.
EPB / John Watts heads the Energy Pros at EPB. They help homeowners find ways to lower their electric bills.

EPB is in the business of selling electricity, but as a public power provider, the municipal utility also is helping its customers use its product more efficiently, even when that reduces sales.

"We do sell electricity, but we don't want you to waste our product," John Watts, supervisor of energy and communications services for EPB, said in a telephone interview. "We want to teach people to conserve energy and use electricity wisely. That's our mission to serve the public."

Wednesday is National Energy Conservation Day, and the Chattanooga utility is using the occasion to promote its Energy Pros, who offer free home energy audits and reviews. The city-owned utility has five Energy Pros, who visit and analyze homes for their energy efficiency at no cost to the homeowner.

Energy Pros examine insulation in attics and basements and look for air leaks in windows, doors and ducts that might be causing homeowners to use more heating and air conditioning than they need. The Energy Pros also evaluate the energy efficiency of water heaters, appliances and heating and air conditioning units to determine how to limit future energy bills.

"At the end of this, we give you an in-depth report to tell you how to improve the energy efficiency of your home," Watts said. If the homeowner makes any of the energy improvements the pros suggest, EPB will, at no charge, come out and look at those improvements to make sure the contractor the homeowner chose did the job correctly, Watts added.

EPB has provided free home energy audits for decades, but the utility started its Energy Pros program in April 2020. Watts said EPB typically reviews from 1,000 to 1,200 homes a year with its Energy Pros. The wait time for getting one of the free residential energy audits is about two weeks, Watts said.

  photo  EPB / Energy Pro Ron Jones helps a homeowner assess the energy efficiency of their air conditioner.

For those wanting quicker answers via the telephone, EPB customers also can schedule a telephone conference to get answers from the Energy Pros.

"We can talk with anyone to help them answer their questions about energy use, installing solar panels or getting charging devices for their EVs (electric vehicles)," Watts said.

Two of EPB's five Energy Pros work every day in lower-income neighborhoods designated for the Home Uplift program in which EPB and its wholesale energy provider, the Tennessee Valley Authority, help assess energy needs and pay for upgrades in insulation, windows, heating and air conditioning and appliances to help cut monthly power bills. EPB has already completed more than 600 Home Uplift upgrades over the past seven years.

EPB estimates the average participant in its Home Uplift program has cut utility bills by more than 25% and, in the process, EPB has reduced 1,800 metric tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions, or an amount equal to burning 1.9 million pounds of coal or more than 4,000 barrels of oil.

EPB has been one of the top local power companies in promoting energy savings measures through Home Uplift, but some environmental groups want the TVA and its distributors to do more to promote energy efficiency. A study by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy earlier this year said TVA lags most other Southern utilities in promoting energy efficiency and renewables.

In the 1970s, TVA launched an aggressive energy conservation program to provide loans and rebates for energy-efficient heat pumps, appliances and home upgrades, and offered monthly discounts to customers who installed cycle-and-save devices that limited power use during peak demand periods. But TVA later discontinued such efficiency programs, and TVA also tends to pay a lower reimbursement than other utilities for solar power sold back to the utility on the grid.

(READ MORE: TVA issues one of the nation's largest requests for carbon-free energy)

Nonetheless, EPB officials say the Energy Pros remain popular. Watts said EPB received more calls for help this summer as hot weather and higher TVA fuel cost adjustments boosted many electric bills to record highs during the hot summer months.

To help avoid higher bills, EPB suggests homeowners consider:

-- Signing up for EPB leveled billing, which averages electric bills over an entire year and keeps monthly bills the same regardless of the weather.

-- Setting thermostats to the most efficient temperature, especially when you are not at home.

-- Identifying common areas where air leaks from homes.

-- Purchase and use cost-effective home appliances and smart devices that use less energy.

EPB also offers help to those considering installing solar panels on their rooftop or purchasing and installing charging devices for electric vehicles.

More information about the EPB Energy Pros is available by calling 648-1372 or online at

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter at @Dflessner1.

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