Reducing Your Utility Bills

Energy Efficiency: Pick Upgrades that (Actually) Drive Down Costs

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: November 3, 2011

The award winning energy efficient Devonshire ...
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The award-winning energy-efficient Devonshire building
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A new study says home owners won’t see their utility bills drop until they’ve conducted four or more energy upgrades. Here are projects that will give you the greatest bang for your energy buck.

I’ve long suspected that saving energy is like saving calories: Small measures add up, until a Thanksgiving pecan pie — or a dazzling holiday light display — wrecks a year’s worth of small though consistent efforts.

Evidently I’m right, according to a new study claiming that doing a couple of small, energy-saving measures actually increase utility bills. And that a home owner must perform at least four energy upgrades before their utility bill drops.

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The 450-page study, conducted by the eco-curious Shelton Group, found that energy-efficient home owners think they should replace water heaters and install a higher-efficiency HVAC system, though they actually replace windows and add insulation.

We think they’re half right: Adding insulation, especially in the attic, is a low-cost way to reduce utility bills. But replacing windows requires a huge upfront cost, which you probably won’t live long enough to earn back.

To see net-net savings — in your lifetime — select upgrades that reduce energy consumption by 5% and require modest initial investments. We suggest:

  • Seal and insulate ductwork through unfinished and unheated areas, such as the attic, garage, and crawl spaces.
  • Install a programmable thermostat so you don’t overheat your house when you’re away or asleep.
  • Seal air leaks around windows, doors, attic access, and recessed lights.

How many energy-efficient improvements did you make last year? Did you see a drop or increase in your utility bills?

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Recycle Old Thermostats and Get a Gift Card

Conserve Energy and Reduce Heating and Cooling Costs

Save money and energy by using a programmable thermostat instead of a traditional thermostat. Estimates are that homeowners can save about $180 a year with a programmable thermostat. Traditional thermostats contain mercury and therefore must be recycled rather than placed in the trash. Covanta Energy is offering a $5 Menards gift card as a thank you gift for recycling your traditional thermostat and as a way to help reduce the cost of the programmable thermostat.

This offer is available through December 31, 2010 or while supplies last. There is a limit of one gift per household. Click on the link below for more details.
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Recycle Old Thermostats, Get a Gift Card Program Information

Learn more about Covanta Energy Corporation

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