By: Vera Gibbons / Zillow.com
Each year, Americans save billions of dollars by employing energy-saving measures and investing in energy-efficient homes. Some upgrades — like Energy Star appliances, new hot water heaters, or geothermal pumps — can be pricey upfront, but there are plenty of small, inexpensive updates that will make a big difference in your budget over time. Here are some places to start.
Thousands of gallons of water go down the drain every day. Toilet flushing and showering are the two biggest culprits. One solution is to upgrade your home’s plumbing fixtures so you use less water to accomplish the same task.
Low-flow fixtures, which are both inexpensive and easy to install, can reduce your home water consumption by as much as 50 percent, and save you up to $145 a year on electricity, according to Energy Star.
Insulate, insulate, insulate
Upgrading your home with energy-efficient insulation is one of the quickest energy payback projects you can undertake. If your house doesn’t have enough insulation (and many homes don’t, especially those built before 1980), bringing it up to current standards will not only make it more comfortable all year long, but you’ll save money — anywhere from 10 to 50 percent on your heating and cooling bills.
Consult the Department of Energy’s ZIP code specific recommendations for the right amount of insulation for your climate.
Use compact fluorescent light bulbs
Yes, fluorescent bulbs are more expensive that regular bulbs, but each bulb can save up to $40 over the lifetime of the bulb, and they last 10 times longer than conventional bulbs.
Install a programmable thermostat
Did you know that the average household spends about $2,000 annually on energy bills, and that close to half that figure can be attributed to heating and cooling?
Enter the programmable thermostat. When used properly (don’t be intimidated!), this little gadget, which you reset when you’re asleep or away from your home, can pay for itself in a matter of months. Annually, you’re looking at saving up to $150 or more.