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Save on energy bills by putting the environment first

(NC) Being environmentally conscious is also going to put money in your pocket.

Yes, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint if you have an efficient home and use cleaner products. And with the increasing cost of energy, there are also significant savings to be had by reducing your use of utilities. Here are some eco-improvements that will save you a bundle, and put you on Mother Nature's 'good' list:

Insulation: If your house is older, chances are the insulation doesn't meet the new requirements. An improperly insulated attic is a primary source of energy loss and results in your furnace and air conditioning units working harder than necessary. By topping up the existing attic insulation you can significantly reduce the amount of energy loss. A popular product for this DIY project is called Roxul RockFill insulation. It is easy to work with by simply spreading the product out onto the material that is already there.

House appliances: Replacing your furnace, hot water tank, and air conditioning unit with highly efficient models is usually a good start when reducing the energy consumption of your home.

Windows: It's usually obvious when it's time for new windows – and the related technology today is far superior to anything that is more than 20 years old. If you want to reap all the benefits of new windows, be sure to tell the installer doing the measurements that you want them to be “brick to brick,” not “inserts”. Inserts leave you with smaller windows placed into the old, inefficient jambs.

Quick weekend projects: There are a few quick and simple improvements that you can tackle on your own that will increase the efficiency of your home for very little cash invested upfront. Here is a quick eco-list:

• Caulk around windows

• Add weather stripping to door gaps

• Install low-flow shower heads

• Put aerators on faucets

• Switch to compact florescent bulbs

• Change your furnace filter

• Set up a programmable thermostat

Scott McGillivray is a full-time real estate investor, contractor, television host, writer, and educator.

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