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Today’s cost of living is rising. Inflation is soaring, and along with it the cost of monthly utility bills. As such, it’s more important than ever to cut back on energy consumption. Two of the largest such expenses for homeowners are heating and cooling.

There are two keys to energy-efficient heating and cooling – insulation and Energy Star-certified appliances. Once you properly insulate your home and switch to energy-efficient appliances, including an Energy Star-rated HVAC system, you can see a dramatic improvement in your monthly expenses.


Checking the Insulation

During your home inspection during the home buying process, your inspector probably pointed out quite a few items that needed upgrading or repairs. If the insulation in the attic made that list, address it first.

Insulation keeps cold air out of your house in winter and warm air out during summer. It blocks it from entering your home through tiny cracks that may develop that you can’t see. The higher the “R” rating of an insulation product, the better it protects your home.

You can either do it yourself to upgrade this insulation or hire someone to do it. Typically, roofing companies also lay insulation.


Insulation Types

Two main types of insulation prevail – rolled batting and blown-in. You use them the same way but install them in different ways.

Rolled Batting

Rolled batting comes in large rolls, typically pink in color. Made of fiberglass, these scratchy rolls of material require that you wear gloves to handle them. That’s because the material consists of such scratchy material that it cuts bare hands.

This insulation goes in quickly and as long as you dress appropriately and wear gloves, you can install this product by yourself. You’ll need to set aside a whole day for it and it helps to have an installation partner who can help you hold the batting while you secure it to the wall.

Blown-in Insulation

Blown-in insulation requires a professional to install. The pros use large “guns” that work in a manner similar to paintball guns. The device literally shoots insulation out of its barrel and into the wall space. This comes in very handy if you want to upgrade the insulation inside existing walls because you can come at it from above if your attic or crawlspace lacks a full floor.

The installers for blown-in insulation somewhat resemble hazardous materials workers while installing this product because they must wear face-covering masks and special suits. You don’t need to worry about what’s going into your attic though. The fumes only pose a danger while the product blows into the walls. Once it dries, you can go into your attic with no problems. The workers must crowd into a small space, which results in the need for the masks.


Choosing the Right Appliances

The other major step in creating an energy-efficient home comes from the appliance choices. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates heaters, air conditioning units, HVAC systems, heat pumps, etc. for energy efficiency based upon pre-set standards. The manufacturers have these standards when designing their products and can easily reference them. Those that meet the minimum requirements of these efficiencies obtain a designation as Energy Star devices.

Energy Star designation indicates that among all of the products on the market, the product with the designation exceeds efficiency basics. When you purchase one of these devices, it comes with a document that explains how much energy it uses in a single year.

Upgrading to all Energy Star appliances can help a homeowner consistently reduce the amount of money paid out in energy bills. When you replace all of the home’s appliances with these efficient appliances, you can significantly reduce energy use.


Going Solar for Power

Depending on your home’s size, you could install solar panels and completely power your home for about $10,000 or less. That might sound like a large outlay of money, but the solar panels and converter allow you to run your home totally on solar energy.

When your home operates on solar energy, you pay out nothing in energy bills. This means that most homeowners pay themselves back for the investment in about ten years. Those with higher energy costs recoup their money even more quickly.

The US government offers tax breaks for using renewable energy systems. You can also obtain rebates on installation from some manufacturers.

If you travel in an RV or use one full-time, you can install a system that can power your home for less than $2,000. Some portable systems cost less than $1,000.



While living costs spiral out of control, every little bit of saving helps. Since utilities cost a hefty chunk of your monthly paycheck, improving energy efficiency can dramatically save you money in the long run, even if it involves a little initial investment and some elbow grease.