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‘Greening’ Saves Home Energy

Here’s how a “greening” project can make your home or apartment more energy efficient:

Local utilities often will do a free energy audit of your house, and private companies can do a more-complete one using what is called a blower door test to identify how much air enters and escapes from a home.

When it comes to reducing the amount of energy used at home, the most effective step is to upgrade the heating and cooling system. Local utilities offer rebates to customers who invest in high-efficiency furnaces and heat pumps.

Less-expensive steps to cut down energy use include installing a programmable thermostat and having heating and cooling systems tuned up regularly.

New high-efficiency refrigerators on the market, such as Whirlpool’s “Golden Carrot,” use about half as much energy as older models. This can reduce energy bills $300 to $500 over an appliance’s lifetime.

The average household spends about $99 a year on energy used for lighting. Compact fluorescent bulbs use only half as much energy as incandescent bulbs and last about 10 times longer.

Water is a scarce resource, as is the energy used to heat water. Faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads reduce the amount of hot water a family uses.

Replacing faucets and shower heads can cut an average house’s energy bill $36 a year with a gas water heater and $86 with electric. They can cut the water bill by $33 a year.