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5 Ways To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Heating and cooling systems use the most energy in a home with storage water heaters a close second in energy use. Loss of hot and cold air, depending on the season, is an energy sucker and forces other systems to work harder. Loss of energy equals higher utility bills. Save money with these five ways to make your home more energy efficient.

1. Use Energy-Star Appliances

Energy Star is a government-backed certification program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Service approves qualified products that both save energy and protect the environment. Look for appliances that are Energy-Star certified, such as stoves, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, water heaters and heating/cooling systems. Earn tax credits when remodeling a home with these appliances, too.

2. Check Your Heating/Cooling System

Make sure your heater and air conditioner are in good working condition and are serviced at least once a year. Change filters often. Replace old inefficient systems with more energy-efficient ones. Keep all vents and registers free of obstruction so that all warm and cool air circulates easily and efficiently.

3. Try A Tankless Water Heater

Originating in Japan and a relative newcomer to the United States, the tankless water heater, also known as an instantaneous water heater, does not store water, as does the storage water heater so common in the U.S. An electric element or gas burner serves to heat the water only when it is needed. The temperature may be set lower than on the storage tank helping decrease energy costs. These units are designed to be more compact, mount to walls and save energy, as hot water is not continuously kept heated until used, but heated only as needed. Multiple tankless heaters can be installed to meet high hot-water household demands. Use of this tank type may mean changing the way your household uses water.

4. Take Care Of Windows

Replace old windows with newer double-glazed ones. Purchase windows with the Energy Star certification. Install white or other light-colored window coverings and keep them closed during the day to reflect heat and light away from your home in the warmer months. Open coverings on south- and west-facing windows during the day during the winter months to let light and sun in.

5. Add Better Insulation

Have a contractor determine if or how the home is insulated. Decide the best and less expensive way to add insulation and have it installed. Check attics and all rooms. The most efficient heating/cooling system does no good without proper insulation to hold that hot or cold air in the home.

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