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Making Energy Efficiency Work for You

By: Allison Millar, Contributing Writer
In: Necessary home improvements
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Energy efficiency and the whole green movement are quite the buzz these days, but what can they do for you? While it’s nice to be altruistic about saving the environment, here’s how to use energy efficiency to save big on your home heating and cooling bills.

Replacement Windows are Big Energy Savers

We are buying replacement windows for our sunroom, a purchase that is long overdue. The windows leak air big time, causing a 10 degree drop in our adjacent kitchen. Brrrr! New replacement windows not only have two panes of glass, they are installed to fit the opening. No more stuffing insulating foam around the windows.

The impetus for this remodeling project is the federal tax credit (of up to $1,500) that is set to expire at the end of the year. I don’t want to risk losing the credit, which equals 30 percent of the product cost.

While it’s easy to find replacement windows that fit the bill, here’s a tax credit guide from Energy Star on what features to look for, including links to local rebates and promotions.

Calculating Energy Efficiency Benefits

If you’re wondering just how much you can save with various energy efficiency remodeling projects, check out these calculators from Efficiency Vermont, a Vermont utility company. In general, you want to:

  • Make a list of products you have that are run by electricity.
  • Do an energy audit, like this one by Home Energy Saver, which was started by the U.S. Department of Energy and other groups. You can find out which appliances use the most electricity. Is it the refrigerator, as everyone assumes, or the microwave?

Once you start saving a little money, you may realize how much fun it is to talk energy efficiency.

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