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It’s no secret that an energy efficient home costs less to operate. But, the up-front costs of major upgrades can be daunting. We set out to find options for small enhancements on a small budget that can make a difference. Here is a short list of DIY projects homeowners can easily take on to improve home performance, conserve energy, and lower the cost of utilities.

Light bulbs
Replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified CFL or LED bulbs that will provide the same brightness (lumens) using fewer watts. An ENERGY STAR certified light bulb uses about 70 to 90 percent less energy, lasts 10-25 times longer, and saves $30-$80 in electricity over its lifetime.

Programmable thermostat
programmable thermostatSimply adjusting your thermostat by 10° to 15° for 8 hours can potentially save 5% to 15% a year on your utility bill. A programmable thermostat allows you to set your heating and AC system so that it runs less while you are away from home or asleep so you can conserve without sacrificing comfort. In the winter, it is optimal to set the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and set it lower while you’re asleep or away from home. Follow the same theory in the summer by setting the thermostat to 78°F while you are at home, and keep the house warmer than normal when you are away.

Change air filters
Check air filters every month, especially during periods of heavy use. If the filter looks dirty, change it. A dirty filter slows down air flow and makes your system work harder to keep you comfortable. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months.

Use ceiling fans properly
During the summer, a ceiling fan will allow you to rely a little less on your AC to keep you comfortable. But remember, fans cool people, not rooms, so turn the fan off when you leave the room. The direction of the fan matters too. During the summer, you want the fan to blow air straight down, so the ceiling fan needs to run in a counter clockwise direction (as you look up at it). The warmer it is, the higher the speed should be. Those rules reverse in the winter when the fan should run at a low speed in a clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.

Whether you are shopping for a new home or contemplating upgrades to an existing home, it’s smart to consider home performance and potential areas for improvement and savings. Contact an experienced loan advisor to help you evaluate your financing options.

By Amy Malloy