Save Energy and Money Now

These simple home energy improvements will reduce your energy bills by up to 50 percent!

| October/November 2001

First some good news ... According to some energy experts, homeowners probably won't have to shoulder another big increase in their fuel bills this winter. The bad news? Fuel prices aren't expected to drop, either. We are faced with two options: We can continue to pay sky-high energy bills, or do something about it. Now, the really good news: Follow the steps we've outlined here and you can easily reduce your energy bills by up to 50 percent.

Most of these techniques are inexpensive, and many can be completed in a weekend. Others may only require that you change a habit or two. To learn how you can get the larger projects to pay for themselves, check out Getting Paid to Save with an Energy Efficient Mortgage. 

Hang on to Your Heat

Considering that heating and cooling costs make up about 44 percent of the average home utility bill, you'll want to make this a conservation priority. Start with some small, simple steps. Caulk. weatherstripping and insulation don't sound as exciting as the latest generation solar or geothermal systems, but according to Michael Lamb, a certified energy manager at the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EERC), "They're the tried and true fixups that work the best."

A few weatherproofing projects like the ones listed here easily can cut 10 to 30 percent off the average home energy bill.

Find and fix drafts. Professional auditors use a device called a smoke pencil to locate leaks, but you can get similar results with an incense stick. On a windy day, hold the lit stick next to your windows, doors, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures and attic hatches — anywhere there's a possible path to the outside. Any change in the smoke column means cold air is entering in or heat is escaping. Find the leaks and caulk them (here's more information on caulking).

Little holes can really add up. According to Lamb, even if your home is insulated, small gaps and cracks can decrease insulation's overall effectiveness by 30 percent. Keeping inside air inside and outside air outside will help your pocketbook no matter what the season.

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