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Energy-Saving Home Improvements, Done Right, Save Money

The DC Metro area’s cold winters and hot, muggy summers can mean wasted energy and higher utility bills if you live in an older home.

Sure, you can wear your coat indoors in January or walk around the house in your birthday suit in July, but there are more practical steps. Here are a few ideas:

  • Energy Audit: An energy audit and assessment reveals areas where investing time and money can lead to savings. The field of energy auditing is relatively new so homeowners should watch out for fly-by-night companies. Make sure the professional you work with has undergone a training and certification program like those offered by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).
  • DIY Fixes: Most homeowners can undertake small energy-saving fixes themselves or with the help of a licensed handyman for relatively little cost. Examples include elimination of drafts by caulking or weather stripping around window frames, electrical outlets, switch plates and baseboards, or fixing ill-fitting chimney flues.
  • Hired-Out Fixes: Projects that require special knowledge or skill or involve electrical work should be hired out to licensed, dependable contractors. Installing ceiling fans in upper level rooms, putting in an attic fan, and properly insulating your attic and crawl spaces are a few examples. Don’t overlook the obvious, either: replacing old or ill-fitting windows and doors with newer, more energy efficient ones may be in order. Window and door replacements may carry the added bonus of tax credits.

For detailed information regarding energy audits, energy efficiency ratings on windows and doors, and a complete list of products for which tax credits are available, see the U.S. Department of Energy website, http://www.energysavers.gov/.

When you’re ready to undertake energy-saving home repairs or improvements, make sure you work with a licensed, dependable contractor, many of whom offer labor warranties to augment the product manufacturers’ warranties.

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