Real Estate Tips: Cutting Costs In 2011- Start At Home

Many Americans have resolved to cut costs in 2011. One of the best places to start is in your home. There are several low‐cost ways to create significant savings on your utility bills throughout the lifetime of your home. 
  • Check for leaks. Cold air seeping in through your doors and windows and weak spots in your insulation can have a huge impact on your energy costs. Test for these issues by taking infrared images, conducting a blower door test, or simply locating cool air by touch. You can save 10 percent on your energy bill by plugging air leaks with caulking, sealing or weather stripping.
  • Upgrade your attic insulation. This simple, inexpensive solution can reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent. The recommended insulation level is 12‐15 inches, depending on the insulation type.
  • Take a close look at your windows. Windows can also account for 10‐25 percent of your heating bill in the winter and can kick your air conditioner into overdrive in the summer by letting sunlight in. Consider installing energy-efficient windows to help block solar heat. If that’s not in your budget, simply modifying your window treatments with thicker or longer curtains can also help lower bills too.
  • Upgrade your appliances. Swapping out all appliances isn’t realistic for most homeowners, but if you’re in the market for a new washer, dryer or fridge, consider an Energy Star product.
  • Check your filters. Dirty filters slow down airflow, making your system work harder to keep your home warm or cool. Clean filters also prevent dust and dirt buildup – an issue that can lead to expensive repairs or system replacement. Filters should be replaced every three months.
  • Swap old light bulbs for new, energy‐efficient ones. Energy‐efficient light bulbs require much less power to provide the same amount of light for a much longer time.

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