Ignoring inefficiency in your home is like being in one of those game show booths where air is blasting free money all around you and you leave the door open. This is no time for any homeowner to turn down an opportunity to save money, and your home’s energy systems could save you a bundle if they were working more efficiently.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, average residential electricity prices have risen by more than $3 per kilowatt hour in the last 10 years, and are expected to rise even further in the future. This means your energy bills will definitely get bigger if you don’t take control of wasted energy.
Energy efficiency doesn’t just mean turning off the lights. It’s common sense to unplug your phone charger or toaster when you’re not using them, but energy efficiency doesn't necessarily mean using appliances, lights and household heating or cooling systems lessit means using them smarter.
Aside from the ever-growing variety of new, long-lasting light bulbs, there is a whole universe of energy-efficient appliances and equipment like dishwashers, TVs, air conditioners and others that are designed to drive efficiency up and your energy bill down. Certain building elements like insulation and double-paned windows ensure that outside temperatures have less effect on indoor temperatures, which means you’ll need less energy to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Here are some recommended measures for beating the high cost of heat this winter:
• Plug up leaks to the outside with caulk and weather stripping, and install more insulation.
• Have your HVAC system tuned up by a qualified contractor  to make sure it’s operating at peak efficiency.
• Clean or change your air filter regularly. Checking once a month is recommended.
• Set your thermostat to lower temps at night, and when your house is vacant. A programmable thermostat can save you $180 every year.
• Seal your heating and cooling ducts  (with the help of a qualified contractor, or course). This can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent — and sometimes much more.
• Keep your hot water heater set at 120 degrees.
• Open curtains to south- and west-facing windows during the day to let in sunlight and heat, and close them at night.
• Replace old, inefficient windows and appliances and be sure to have the new ones installed by a professional—improper installation can reduce system efficiency by up to 30 percent.