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Save Money Being Energy Efficient

You may be surprised at how simple it can be to really slash that electricity bill.

Energy efficiency expert Marcus Barnum says just like you take a car in for routine maintenance, it's always good to give your house the once-over about three times a year -- that alone he says can prevent you from incurring some major expenses.

"One of the most under-utilized areas in the home is the ceiling fan because hot air rises, cold air falls so in the summer time, make sure your blades are facing the correct way so the cold air can be coming on you for increased comfort level conversely in the winter-time you want to reverse the switch so that you can mix the air and you're not over utilizing your HVAC system," Marcus said.

This minor adjustment, he says, can save you 10 to15 percent on your heating or cooling bill.

"Now, this is a typical mistake that people make, this is a digital thermostat, but it's not a programmable thermostat," he said. "You want to be able to set the temperature - let's say this one's set at 71, if I'm leaving to go to work, I don't want my air conditioner running at 71, cooling a house and no one's here - big money waster right here!"

He estimates a small programmable thermostat will run $40 to $80 and could save you upwards of 25 percent.

"If you can stand a higher setting you'll save anywhere from 3 percent with each click of the dial - like from 71 to 72 - you'll save 3 percent on your bill," he said.

He also advises you check your vents with a digital thermometer - that way you know exactly what temperature is blowing out.

"Typically I like to see anywhere from 54 degrees to 62 degrees coming out of the AC duct into the home," he said. "If 70 degrees is coming out - no wonder my bills are running high because that thing is trying to catch up and get me cooler, but I'm not getting cooler - so that lets me know there's a breech in the HVAC system."

Something as simple as changing out the light bulbs can get you on the right track to becoming more energy efficient.

"A pack of four fluorescent light bulbs cost about $8, if you can change out all the lights you will diminish your electric bill immensely," he said. "The incandescent bulbs, the old bulbs, put off so much heat and it takes more energy to run and heat up - the fluorescent is fluorescent gas and it takes less energy."

He says this simple fix can knock about five percent off of your cooling bill.

And talk about throwing money out the door - literally! He showed us a huge gap in one door and said any cool or hot air in the house is escaping right through the hole!

"What you want to do, a very low-cost fix, is to purchase some weather-stripping," Marcus said. "It will save up to 10 percent on your heating and cooling cost just by this simple fix - it comes with adhesive on the back, peel it off like a sticker and you can just measure it out, cut the length that you need and stick it on accordingly."

Looking outside at the water hose, Marcus found more problems.

"This is a major breech this can cost you money - so we can just easily wrap these pipe with foam insulation, get some duct tape - make sure you 've got a good wrap on them and you're protected going into the winter time," he said.

The attic may be a place many of us avoid, but Marcus says it's a place we really need to check out first when making your home more energy efficient.

You want to make sure there's proper airflow by making sure you have enough ridge vents.

Most homes he says are under insulated, so make sure you have enough, you shouldn't be able to see your rafters and make sure your air ducts are also properly insulated.

Take a digital thermometer into your attic during the hottest part of the day and again after the sun goes down. If the temperature hasn't dropped much - that's a sign you could have a problem.

You never want the temperature in the attic to reach 15 degrees over the outside temperature.

"If you don't have proper protection in the attic that temperature can get up to 175 degrees - it becomes an oven up there and what happens, it's a game on for the AC unit, the AC unit is always running, the thermostat is never cutting off," Marcus said. "Consequently, in the winter time the coldest area of the home will be the attic."

It's worth a check, he says 90 percent of homes are under insulated, but when properly maintained it could reduce your utility costs by a whopping 35 percent!

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