Of course, you want your home to be warm and cozy during the winter months, and cool and comfortable during the dog days of summer.
But you also want to keep your energy bills under control.
Energy-smart day-to-day living is easier than you might think. There are ways to be more energy efficient that allow you to save energy and money at the same time.
These simple ways to save energy at home can help you accomplish both.
If your home's heating or cooling unit is more than 15 years old, you might want to replace it with one of today's energy-efficient models.
The newer models, which are better insulted and have motors that require less maintenance, pay for themselves in energy savings, frequently in as little as three to five years. It's one of the easiest ways to use less energy at home.
If you're not ready to make such a large purchase right now, you can wrap insulation around heating ducts. But first check your ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near the seams.
A streak indicates an air leak, which needs to be sealed with metal-backed duct tape before you add the insulating jacket.
If furnace ductwork appears to have been insulated and you think it might contain asbestos, make sure you have a professional test it before you begin. If asbestos is present, have it wrapped with duct-pipe insulation to protect you and your family.
A sure way to save on winter heating bills is to open the curtains during the day and let the sun shine in, and to draw them at night to keep the heat from radiating out.
Set the thermometer at 68 degrees F. (20 degrees C) or lower during the day, and set it at 55 degrees F (13 degrees C) at night or when you're away.
For every degree you lower your thermostat, you'll save 3 to 5 percent on your monthly heating bill. Also consider installing a thermostat with a built-in timer.
While you can easily adjust your thermostat yourself to comfortable temperatures, it's more efficient to have a system that does it for you automatically.
To keep your home cool in summer, draw the curtains and close the windows to keep hot air and the sun's burning rays out. Set the thermostat at 78 degrees F (26 degrees C) or higher when you're home.
Don't place your air-conditioning thermostat near lamps, appliances, or in direct sunlight. Heat in these areas is sensed by the thermostat and could cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
It's easy to cook up energy savings in the kitchen. If you keep range-top burners and reflectors clean, they'll reflect the heat better and require less energy for cooking. If you cook with electricity, turn off the burners several minutes before the end of the allotted cooking time. The burners will stay hot long enough to finish the job without using any more electricity.
When you have a choice between using the range top and the oven, go with the former to save energy. If you do use the oven, open it sparingly; each time you open it, heat escapes and the oven will use even more energy to maintain the temperature.
The traditional home hot-water setting of 140 degrees F. (60 degrees C) can scald skin - a particular danger with your children in the house.
Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to ensure the mercury doesn't top 120 degrees F. (49 degrees C). Your family members will bathe more safely and your energy bill will be lower.