Slash your energy bills

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Most families in the U.S. spend thousands of dollars per year on home utility bills. (KFSN)

Most families in the U.S. spend thousands of dollars per year on home utility bills. But Consumer Reports says that you can cut your costs by finding and fixing your home's problem areas. Here are steps you take now to save you money for years to come.

Consumer Reports says most important is your heating and cooling systems, which are responsible for about half of your home's energy use. Make sure your ductwork is properly sealed and insulated. Add extra insulation to your attic and plug drafty windows with caulk or weatherstripping.

Another important step is upgrading your thermostat. A programmable model can trim your energy bill by automatically reducing your heating and cooling when you need it the least.

Old and inefficient appliances are another source of energy loss. Swapping out a 15-year-old refrigerator for an energy-efficient one could save you $60 per year. And if your electric water heater is more than 10 years old, consider an upgrade to a heat pump-style water heater.

Another easy way to save is switch to LED blubs, which use 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lighting. And because LEDs can last 20 years or longer, you won't be buying bulbs as often.

You may want to hire an energy auditor to assess your home. Consumer Reports says they can be helpful, but be wary of companies advertising "free or low-cost" services. They can be scams. You can find a certified energy auditor in your area at www.resnet.us.
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