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Cost Savers

Slash Your Energy Bill With These Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

With energy costs rising every year, making quick and easy energy efficient home improvements is more important than ever. Here are a few simple ways you can cut your energy bill right away.

Light Bulbs Save Money on Energy Bill

Photo by: iStock

Energy costs sure aren’t getting any lower, are they? You need electricity and natural gas to light, heat and cool your home, or to power the many appliances you use each day. You don’t need to sacrifice your quality of life in order to control rising energy costs. Use these energy-saving tips for the home to slash your energy bill, so you can continue to live comfortably for less. 

Light More Efficiently

One of the cheapest energy efficient home improvements you can make is simply lighting more efficiently. Before you flip a light switch or turn on a lamp, ask yourself if you can get the level of illumination you need from simply opening the curtains. 

Of course, that’s a solution that only works during the day. If it’s dark outside – or if you need more light than your windows can provide – consider changing the kind of light bulbs you buy. Switch out your old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs. These last 10 to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs, at a fraction of the operating cost. With these new, energy-efficient bulbs, you can use the same amount of light for less money. To keep from wasting light, use timers, dimmer switches and motion sensors. 

Look for new bulbs based on the amount of light they put out (lumens), rather than the wattage they require. Many LED and CFL bulbs are available in equivalents to standard incandescent wattage, such as 40W, 60W, and 100W. When in doubt, check the package.

Insulate Your Water Heater

Insulating your water heater reduces heat loss from the unit by as much as 45 percent, and can lower the cost of heating water for your home by as much as 16 percent, making it one of the most effective energy tips for home improvement. You and a helper can easily insulate your water heater using a pre-cut insulation blanket, available from any hardware store. Once installed, a water heater blanket should not make water heater maintenance any more complicated, and it should pay for itself in about 12 months. Before you install insulation, however, make sure your water heater doesn’t have insulation built in.

Change Your Furnace Filter

Changing your furnace filter regularly helps the unit operate more efficiently, to help you keep heating costs low. It also helps the furnace last longer, because a dirty, clogged filter puts undue stress on the unit. And, if you or someone in your family has allergies or asthma, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are available to keep the air inside your home cleaner. Changing a furnace filter is an easy job, and you should do it every two to 12 months, depending on the size of your filter and the number of pets you have.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

When you’re asleep at night, snuggled up under your warm blankets, or away from home at work, you can afford to turn the thermostat down (or up) and save on heating (or cooling) costs. A programmable thermostat turns this from one more thing to remember before you leave the house to a set-it-and-forget it chore. Save money on heating and cooling costs by setting your programmable thermostat to keep your home warmer or cooler during the hours of the day when you’re asleep or out.

Install a Chimney Damper

Nothing much beats sitting down in front of a crackling fire on a cold winter’s evening, but your chimney lets out more than just the smoke and fumes from your fire – it also serves as an escape route for heat when you don’t have a fire lit. Part of getting your fireplace ready for fall and winter should include installing a chimney damper. A chimney damper keeps cold drafts from coming out of your fireplace all winter long, and prevents heat from escaping. It can also help keep cool air inside your house during the summer. 

If you already have a chimney damper, or if you can’t bear the expense of having a permanent damper installed, consider an inflatable chimney blocker. These go in your chimney below the damper and inflate to block drafts. You’ll have to take it out before lighting a fire, and wait until your chimney has completely cooled before putting it back in. But they’re affordable and even work with oddly-constructed chimneys.

Adding some simple, cheap energy efficient improvements to your home can go a long way towards helping you manage energy costs, while still staying comfortable in your home. You don’t need to cut way back on your light, heat, cooling and hot water usage. Instead, you can take steps to stretch the energy you do use further, so you can use the same amount of energy for less money.


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