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A new national survey, commissioned by Lowe’s, reveals that 90 percent of Americans would personally take action to prevent the over-consumption of energy, if they knew what they could do. Below you will find helpful advice on what homeowners can do to make their homes more energy efficient.

Light The Way

  • Turn off lights when they are not in use because lighting accounts for between five and 10 percent of the average homeowner’s electricity bill.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which are roughly three to four times their wattage, saving up to 75 percent of the initial lighting energy.
  • CFLs last 10 to 15 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs.

The Appliance Drain

  • Dispose of outdated appliances. Although 39 percent of homeowners rank energy efficiency as the most important purchasing factor when it comes to appliances, many hold on to outdated appliances costing them and the environment.
  • Appliances account for about 20 percent of household’s energy consumption, with the refrigerator and clothes washer being the biggest drain.
  • Invest in an ENERGY STAR qualified washer because it uses 18-25 gallons per load, saving 7,000 gallons of water per household. Sort and dry clothes of a comparable thickness in the same load so the drying time will not have to be extended for just a few clothes. Use warm or cold water for washing clothes whenever possible.
  • Purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator that uses less energy than a 75-watt bulb, saving more than $35 a year compared to a 10-year-old model. Store the most perishable items in the coldest part of the refrigerator so the temperature can be set slightly higher.

Sealing The Home

  • Prevent air leaks in the home, which is a concern that stands high on the list of ways to lower home energy bills.
  • Pay close attention to duct system leakage because it can account for up to 20 percent or more of wasted energy in heating and cooling a home.
  • Apply more insulation and caulking to air leakage trouble spots to create a barrier between the home and outdoor elements. More leakage problems are found in drafty areas, such as chimneys/fireplaces, windows, attics, and gaps along the top of basement walls.

Minimize Water Usage

  • Keep faucets turned off tightly because a leak of one drop of water a second wastes more than 250 gallons of water a month and the energy used to heat it.
  • Take shorter showers and install water-saving showerheads.

Penny-wise Windows

  • Install double and tripled-paned windows, which offer good insulation values known as U-factors. Some have an insulating gas between the panes, which insulates better than air.
  • Put in low-e windows, windows with special clear coatings that reflect heat.
  • Consider wood, vinyl and fiberglass frames since they insulate better than standard aluminum frames. In addition, new warm-edge spacers insulate better than normal wood, vinyl or fiberglass, which can conduct condensation around the edges of the windows.

Hug a Water Heater

  • Install heat traps in the water heater. If the heater is older or noticeable warm to touch, wrap it with special insulation blankets and pipes with pre-formed wraps.
  • Adjust the temperature so that it does not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit and timer controls avoid waste during off peak usage hours.

  

Truly Green Landscaping

  • Plant deciduous trees, leafy in summer and bare in winter, to provide shade to cool the home during the summer and allow sunlight in to warm the home in the winter.
  • Place trees in the areas that receive the most sun. Evergreens can also provide an effective break from chilling winds in winter.

Personalize your Temperature 

  • Invest in an ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat, which can save homeowners about $150 every year.
  • Programmable thermostats prevent homeowners from paying to fully heat or air condition their home while they’re away and makes the temperature comfortable before they get home. This can help cut heating and cooling bills by 20-30 percent.

Home Energy Audit

  • Pay close attention to monthly utility bills because they add up quickly. Conduct an energy audit to determine money and energy expenditures.

Adding A Cool Breeze 

  • Use fans instead of air conditioning for cooling whenever possible because fans use only about 10 percent of the energy that air conditioning does.
  • In the winter, set the ceiling fan on reverse to recirculate heat that would otherwise build up near the ceiling.

Solar Power

  • Invest in products that use clean, renewable sources such as solar power. For example, solar landscaping lights are both economical and environmentally responsible.

For more energy-saving ideas, visit www.Lowes.com/energy and select “ENERGY STAR @ Home” or the ENERGY STAR Web site at http://www.energystar.gov/

SOURCE: Lowe’s

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Homeowners who own an existing home that is also their principal residence may qualify for a federal tax credit that would refund 30% of cost (up to $1500 on qualifying purchases) if they purchase an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for their home.

New construction and rental homes do not qualify.

The tax credit applies to purchases of biomass stoves, HVAC, insulation, roofs, water heaters, windows and doors.

The tax credit expires December 31, 2010.   The credit can be claimed by submitting IRS Form 5695 with the tax return.

Details at www.EnergyStar.gov

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