Five_Ways_to_Actually_Lower_Your_Energy_BillsThere are a few things in life we can all count on: the sun will rise each morning, our taxes are due each April, and the cost of utilities will continue to climb upward.

If rising energy costs are driving you mad, you certainly aren’t alone. And while turning off lights when you leave a room and using a programmable thermostat can help make small changes in your bill, those steps alone won’t lead to significant savings over time.

Follow these five tips to put more money back in your pocket this year:

Get Your HVAC System a Checkup

When was the last time your cooling and heating system had a tune-up? Over time, poorly lubricated fans, loose belts, dust and soot buildup can impact the efficiency of your furnace or HVAC system. Each year, have a technician come in to give your system a “checkup” and conduct preventative maintenance. These annual visits will not only save you money on your energy bills, they can also prevent surprise (expensive) system breakdowns during cold snaps or heat waves.

Additionally, if your system uses ductwork, be sure to seal it in order to prevent air from leaking into your attic or crawl space. Sealing doesn’t need to happen annually; one good sealing job will help improve efficiency for several years.

Switch to Energy-Efficient Appliances

According to Energy Star data, homeowners spend 20 percent of their electric bills running appliances. That number can be reduced dramatically by upgrading to newer, more efficient washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators. If your appliances are more than 15 years old, this can be well worth the investment. Energy star says its refrigerators use half as much energy as those manufactured 15 years ago.  As you think about replacing your appliances, you might also want to consider a new hot water heater. Older heaters are far less energy efficient than newer models, and many newer systems can also help you save money on your water bill.

Seal Air Leaks

Openings, cracks and gaps near plumbing, windows, doors and wiring can really add up. If you combined all of the tiny gaps around your house into a single opening, it could be the equivalent of leaving a window wide open all year long. According to the US Department of Energy, you can save an average of ten percent on your utility bills when you take the time to seal up those openings. As you work through the process, pay close attention to areas where pipes and electrical wires enter the home from exterior walls.  You can purchase everything you need to seal air leaks at a home improvement store, and depending upon the size and age of your home and the type of materials you use, it should cost you less than $100 to fill these common gaps.

Invest in Insulation

While newer homes are typically well-insulated, older homes are not.  If your house was built more than 25 years ago, it was not subject to the energy-efficient building codes of the modern era. As a result, you could be losing your heat and air conditioning right out of your attic, crawl spaces, and basement. The US Department of Energy estimates that homeowners can save 30 percent on their utility bills by adding a few hundred dollars of new insulation to their homes.

Upgrade Your Windows

Old windows suck energy like almost nothing else in the home. A single pane of glass loses 10 times more heat than an area of a wall the same size, and as a result up to 30 percent of your annual utility bills go towards air lost through old windows. Filling the gaps around older windows isn’t quite enough to slow down energy loss, especially if those windows are single-pane. The only way to truly keep heated and cooled air inside is to upgrade to energy-efficient replacement windows.

According to Efficient Windows Collaborative, a coalition of researchers, window manufacturers, and government-associated agencies, homeowners in a 2,000 square foot home can save anywhere from $126 to $464 a year when they replace single pane windows with energy-efficient windows.

If you’re looking for practical ways to improve your energy bills and improve the value of your home, the team at Legacy Remodeling in Pittsburgh is here to help. Replacing old windows instantly improves both the look and the feel of your home, and you can begin to recoup the cost of upgrading almost immediately. Contact us to start the conversation – and start