How to Curb Energy Costs

Sealing your space up tight and fixing other trouble spots can save as much as 30 percent on your energy bills. Here's our three-stage plan to get you started.

Basic: Know Your Home

You've heard you should do a home energy audit, but what exactly does that mean? Certified home energy raters will conduct a blower door test, putting a powerful fan in your doorway to send air outward through all the tiny holes that let in cold or heat; gauges identify the extent of air leakage. Infrared scans may also show energy culprits like spaces between drywall. Your utility company may offer free audits; or visit to find a home energy rater in your area.

Labor: None

Cost: Up to $500

Intermediate: Fill the Gaps

Homes built before 1970 can have so much seepage that the entire volume of air inside is replaced by air from outside in 40 minutes. Yet air infiltration is one of the easiest problems to correct. After identifying leaky spots, hit the hardware store for a caulking gun and some caulk or insulating foam. Then check out the Green Dream Group on YouTube for tutorials on filling spaces around outlets and window frames. Sealing your home can trim your bill by as much as 9 percent.

Labor: Moderate

Cost: Under $50

Advanced: Reinsulate

Especially in older homes, poor wall insulation makes it hard to maintain a comfortable temperature without cranking the heat or A/C. Check your attic, basement, and crawl spaces to see if you have full coverage. Adding insulation can cost anywhere from 15 cents to $4 per square foot, depending on what type you use, and it may take years to recoup your investment. But if you've completed stages 1 and 2, adding insulation can save you more than $200 a year.

Labor: Heavy

Cost: From a few hundred dollars to thousands

More Budget-Friendly Fixes for Your Home


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