5 On Your Side

Boost energy efficiency to cut expenses

Posted November 1, 2010 4:59 p.m. EDT
Updated November 1, 2010 6:39 p.m. EDT

According to a new survey more than 80 percent of us now use energy-efficient light bulbs, but there are other ways to boost your home’s energy efficiency.

Many people took advantage of the rebates earlier this year and bought energy efficient appliances and caulked windows and doors. No one wants their money flying out the window, but that's what happens when your home is not energy efficient.

Gina Lamparella replaced her windows, installed an energy-efficient heating system and added insulation to the attic.

"We hope to definitely save money, especially in the winter, on our energy bills," Lamparella said.

“You can probably cut your energy costs by 20 percent or more by adding insulation and energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment," said Dan DiClerico of Consumer Reports.

You can save even more if you qualify for Federal Energy Tax Credits that are set to expire at the end of the year.
You can get a 30 percent tax credit of up to $1,500 on energy-efficiency improvements such as windows and insulation.

“There are also federal energy tax credits available until 2017 for renewable energy systems, such as geothermal heat pumps and small wind turbines," DeClerico said.

You can also save energy by making simple changes around your own home.

"Five to 10 percent of your home's electricity goes to devices that continue to draw power even when they're not in use," said DeClerico. So unplug power "vampires" like your coffeemaker and your cell phone after it's fully charged.

There are other easy savings techniques such as switching out light bulbs to energy efficient CFLs, Consumer Reports says you'll save nearly $60 over the life of the bulb.

Do your wash in cold water. Tests show your clothes will still get clean and it will save $60 a year.

Adjust thermostat temperatures by five to 10 degrees at night and when you're not home. A programmable thermostat makes the task easier and can trim as much as 20 percent off your heating and cooling bills.

Consumer Reports says another way to save energy is to reduce the brightness when you watch TV. Consumer Reports says it can really save to switch to the mode called "home use."

Also stop pre-rinsing dishes before you put them in the dishwasher, it wastes water and energy.

And check the federal tax credits for information on what applies and how they work.