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Most people try to find ways in which to lower their energy bills. In fact, in the past few years, the cost of energy has risen dramatically, resulting in Americans spending more than $115 billion dollars every year just for electricity and fuel for the home. When you consider all the energy used within the home, its amazing to learn that 45% is from heating and cooling alone. Water consumption only accounts for 14% with the remaining 41% coming from the use of appliances. Obviously, some homes will use more energy than others due to size, geographic location, and materials used to build the home. Regardless, there are ways that energy can be saved for all homes.

Interestingly enough, most of the ways to save on energy are easy and inexpensive, although sometimes, the solution can be more costly. For example, caulking around windows, adding weather stripping to doors and windows, or buying storm windows are relatively inexpensive solutions. On the other hand, building an energy-efficient home that works with solar and uses only top quality materials, can cost a lot of money. Many new products and systems have been designed specifically to help with the energy efficiency of homes. These items not only fight against the rising cost of fuel but they are also environmentally friendly. The key to success comes in choosing the appropriate products or systems and not wasting money on things that will not work.

One of the best ways to determine the level of energy efficiency in your home is to have an audit performed. These audits are performed by professionals in the business that will look at both cooling and heating systems to see what, if anything, needs to be changed. Although you can perform an audit yourself by looking for leaks coming in from doors, windows, or from a fireplace, professional audits can end up saving you money far into the future. Often, these auditors will use special equipment such as infrared cameras, efficiency instruments, surface thermometers, and blower doors that the common person does not possess. They will also look at the history of your energy bills and determine appropriate measures to take. Although these audits can be somewhat expensive, they are very beneficial. Another option would be to check with your local utility companies. Sometimes, they will provide energy audits for a very nominal fee, or even free.

Once you get the results and know where energy is being wasted in your home, you need to determine the priorities of both the problem and availability of solution. For example, you will need to determine first, all the items found and place them in order of priority. Then, you need to consider your budget to determine which of the problems you can afford to fix first. Look at both the short-term and long-term savings and determine if the money you would invest is to save on the monthly energy bills or if other factors are involved. Next, you need to look at all the options available for improving the energy efficiency. As mentioned, some of the problems might be able to be fixed with caulk, weather stripping, or even added insulation. However, other problems may require a new heat pump. Just be sure that whatever solution you go with, your weatherize your home first. In other words, spending thousands of dollars to improve the heating in your home by buying all kinds of new equipment will not do much if you still have cold air from the outside leaking in through the windows and doors.

Consider that the greater percentage of the energy bill comes from the air conditioning. If heat is oozing into the home, undetected, you could be paying too much. Check fireplace dampers, windows, and doors, attics and walls that may need more insulation, or even tiny cracks and holes in the walls and ceilings. In fact, heat and cold air can even come into the home through light fixtures, wall outlets, and ducts that are leaking. When trying to make your home more energy efficient, check everything and if possible, invest in a professional audit.
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