EnergyStar, a program started in 1992 to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy costs for consumers, offers suggestions for how to reduce your annual electric costs by a third. In other words, you can save about $700 a year on electricity. Last year, Americans saved about $17 billion on energy bills and reduced green house gas emissions by nearly the equivalent of 30 million cars.
If you really want to cut back on your energy use, you need to focus on heating and cooling your home, That's because these two categories combined account for 46% of your overall electric bill. While most homeowners can't afford a complete overhaul of their homes' heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, some changes can increase energy efficiency and include:
• Installing a programmable thermostat, which lets you set temperatures for specific times of day. These devices can save about $180 each year on energy costs.
• Change air filters regularly. The harder your HVAC unit has to work, the more energy it eats away. Filters should really be changed out monthly, especially during the summer and winter months when the HVAC unit has a heavy workload. If you find this tedious, EnergyStar suggests changing filters a minimum of every three months.
• Seal your heating and cooling ducts, especially those running through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement or garage, as that improves the efficiency of your HVAC unit by as much as 20%.