Slash home energy costs this summer

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Many first-time homeowners come up with a budget after buying a home to ease into the costs of utilities, maintenance and other property-related responsibilities. There are several ways that homeowners can keep their energy costs low and, in some cases, maintain their properties during the hot summer months.

Take inventory

Most homes lose energy through drafty windows and doors, cracks and holes that allow air to escape. So the first task a homeowner should complete is walking through the house to look for areas where air may be leaking though, according to U.S. News and World Report. Plugging up small cracks and holes is simple, and individuals can find caulk or other items they need at home improvement stores. This is especially important for homeowners who install window-unit air conditioners, because if they are not fitted to the window tightly enough, air can easily escape.

Individuals can also save significantly by making sure their home is properly insulated. This keeps cool air in during the summer months and has the same effect on heat during winter.

In addition, keeping air filters clean can have a large impact on energy bills. Dirty air filters can get clogged and make it more difficult for cool air to escape. As a result, it may take longer to cool a home and homeowners will be forced to run their air conditioning units longer each day. Other small actions, such as unplugging items that are not in use and keeping the shades drawn can help reduce energy bills and keep the sun from shining in and creating a greenhouse effect.

Invest in upgrades

Getting rid of an older thermostat in favor for one that is programmable can pay homeowners back over the years. Individuals can let their thermostat naturally run at a higher temperature during the day when they're at work, which won't make the system work as hard. They can then program it to a certain temperature that will kick in before they get home so they are not wasting energy throughout the day.

In addition, upgrading air conditioning units to more energy-efficient models can save homeowners money on their bills without sacrificing quality. The same is true for major appliances, including refrigerators, washers and dryers. Lastly, tossing old light bulbs for compact fluorescents will generate less heat and save homeowners money on utilities.