Cut your energy bills

You can save $1,500 with these 4 strategies

Last reviewed: October 2009

Most homes, including yours, waste energy. That inefficiency is costing you plenty, but it doesn't have to.

Even if you've already switched to compact fluorescent bulbs and retired the refrigerator in the basement, there's more you can do. Some of the simplest projects, such as adding insulation and sealing cracks and ductwork, can yield the biggest savings. And thanks to new federal tax credits, it will take less time for those projects to pay for themselves.

Yet in a recent nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 2,014 Americans, only 12 percent had added or upgraded their home's insulation in the last three years. Just a paltry 5 percent had insulated their heating and cooling ductwork.

Conflicting and confusing claims can make it hard to know where the real savings are. So we've examined the claims across four key categories—heating and cooling, water, recycling, and electricity—and ordered them by potential money and energy savings based on national rates for electricity, gas, and water. We've also mined our survey data to figure out what consumers are doing and where there's room for improvement. The result is a road map for taking your home's energy efficiency to the next level.