Going Green Can Save You Money

Francine L. Huff

It seems like everywhere you turn these days people are talking about the benefits of going green. Not only can going green help the environment, but it can help you save money at home. Here are some ways to help your old home be more energy efficient and keep more money in your pocket.

Change Thermostats
Looking to save money on your heating and cooling bills? A programmable thermostat can allow you to save about $150 a year on utility bills, according to Energy Star. If you work outside the home a programmable thermostat can allow you to save energy while you're away.

Repair or Replace Heating and Cooling System
Many old homes have outdated heating and air equipment. If your HVAC system is older than 10 years and your energy bills are rising faster than energy prices, you need to have it checked out. An HVAC specialist can do a cost-benefit analysis of your HVAC system that will allow you to compare the cost of doing nothing, repairing or supplementing the existing system, or replacing your entire HVAC system. This type of analysis will also identify if there are relatively small problems--dirty air filters or a blocked air duct, for example--that are having a major effect on your HVAC system’s efficiency. 

Seal Heat and Air Ducts
Even if your HVAC system is still in good working order, you may need to seal up heating and air ducts to improve the efficiency of your system. Doing so can improve efficiency by up to 20%, reports Energy Star. Signs that you may need to seal ducts include:

•    Rooms that are difficult to heat or cool
•    High utility bills
•    Stuffy, uncomfortable rooms

Seal Drafty Windows
Drafty, old windows can push up your heating bills. Contractors who don’t have experience working on older homes often suggest replacing old windows with insulating glass replacement windows, but doing so is expensive, doesn’t result in notably greater efficiency, and too often doesn’t preserve the historic charm of older homes. A better solution is to install weather stripping around your old window’s sash, where 85 percent of heat loss occurs. If window panes are rattling in their frames, you may also need to replace the window putty that holds them in place. Doing so can improve the performance of your old windows to where it’s equal or superior to double pane replacement windows, and at a fraction of the cost.

Depending upon the type of energy efficient upgrades you make to your old home, you may be able to file for a special energy credit on your tax return. Save your receipts so that you'll have them during tax time.

About the Author
Francine L. Huff is a freelance journalist and the author of
The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows.


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