SEATTLE — As summer temperatures descend upon us, it may be hard to remember what it was like earlier this year with several feet of snow and freezing weather so late in the winter season, and how that affected your utility bill.

I was one of the many people who fell victim to sticker shock when opening my utility bills, which have only recently returned to normal.

I still couldn't understand why I was paying nearly $600 every other month for a 700 square foot house, and a lot of other people with whom I spoke complained of similar concerns.

Then I got a letter from my utility company alerting me that my energy usage is 167% higher than my neighbors with a similarly sized home. How embarrassing! I am, after all, the environmental reporter who should be getting an A+ in energy efficiency.

So, I decided to call Puget Sound Energy and they sent Project Manager Amit Singh to solve the mystery.

"A good place to start is to under your house to look for insulation," Singh said.

That was one spot we could do better.

"You have a light on the outside of your garage. One way to reduce usage from lighting is to put lights on sensors or timers," Singh said.

We rent and haven't switched out the incandescent light bulbs that were previously in place, but Singh said LED bulbs are 80% more efficient.

"This is a wall heater. It's going to be very high wattage, probably around 1,500 watts," Singh said. "My recommendation there would be to upgrade that to a ductless heat pump which is a much more efficient way to heat your home."

He also suggested thicker drapes on our windows as well as use window film to trap heat since our windows are older and single pane. The best option would be double pane vinyl windows, Singh said.

Finally, Singh advised we upgrade our fridge, washer, dryer and faucets.

For more information, visit Puget Sound Energy.

Now, let's get to work!