woman caulking exterior of window for energy efficiency
Photo: Laura Moss

Use Less, Spend Less

So you've swapped your incandescent lightbulbs for CFLs, turned down the thermostat, and only wash clothes on cold. Then why are your utility bills still so high? Air leaks are likely culprits, but so are "phantom" power suckers, such as flat-screen TVs, which draw energy even when they're off.

To help pinpoint exactly where you are burning through resources—and cash—we polled energy consultants across the country. The simplest route, they agree, is to have a professional auditor detect leaks with sophisticated tools, such as blower doors and infrared cameras. Your local utility may offer this service for free, but if it doesn't, the cost is typically $400. Or you can do some easy tests yourself and put your money toward addressing the problems. "There are many steps homeowners can take before calling a pro," says Jeffrey Gordon, spokesperson for the New York State Energy Research Development Authority. "With a little knowledge and determination, you might be surprised by your next power bill." Read on to learn how to spot and stop some of the biggest energy wasters.
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