If you don't have the ability to put more money in your pockets, there are some ways that you can keep your money in them. By performing energy saving weatherization measures, you can reduce your utility bills, save energy, and save money. Some of the effects are compounded. The less time your HVAC runs, the longer it will last saving you from having to replace it. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your energy costs.
Insulation- First and foremost. The most efficient form of insulation citing both cost and effectiveness is radiant barrier insulation. Radiant barrier can go over your existing insulation and will reduce the amount of radiant energy transmitted to the interior of your structure by as much as 97%. This alone can reduce your electric bills by as much as 25%.
Solar Screens- Most people think that by having blinds and curtains, they keep their home cool but consider this. The sunlight that is heating your home has passed through the glass and is heating the air between your blinds and curtains! The next time the sun shines directly on your window coverings touch them and you will see how much heat is coming into your home. Solar screens will stop this solar radiation from coming into your home and will allow you to keep cool with less energy.
Dehumidifiers- Did you know that if you are comfortable in your home at 74 degrees, less humidity will allow you the same amount of comfort at 77-78 degrees? Less humid air feels cooler so by installing a whole house dehumidifier your home will be more comfortable and you will save by running you HVAC less. The less the HVAC has to run, the longer it will last.
Penetration Sealing- If you were to consolidate the air gaps in the average home, it would be equivalent to having a 6 inch square hole in the side of your house leading to the outside. In older homes, this combined air gap can be a much a 2 feet square! Instead of just trying to cool your own home, you are trying to cool the entire neighborhood. By sealing the penetrations in your home, you can keep cooling where it belongs, inside.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs- Lighting your house is about 11% of your electric bill. CFL's provide the same amount of illumination as ordinary bulbs but only use a third of the energy. Just by changing the bulbs in your home you can save more than 7% on your electric bill.
Water Heater Insulation- The purpose of your water is not only generating hot water, but to keep it hot. The more heat that radiates through the shell of the machine, the faster the water cools off and the more electricity or gas you have to burn to keep it hot. By insulating your water heater and the visible hot water line, you help keep the heat where it belongs and the unit fires up less saving you money in the short run and replacement cost in the long run.
There are other measures that you can take but in my opinion, these are the most cost effective and least invasive methods you can use to save money right away.