Financial Wellness: Baby, It’s (Getting) Cold Outside Posted on 10.16.2014 Bookmark the permalink Fall is here, and that means say goodbye to sunny weather and lemonade stands and hello to rain and cozy sweaters. Save energy costs this season by following these simple tips from BALANCE. Sealing Cold air can get in around the sides of windows, doors, and vents. If you hold a piece of tissue near the frames inside on a windy day and it flutters, you need to seal the window. Stroll on down to your local hardware store and pick up some weatherstripping – talk to an employee there or do research online about the right product. Heating and Cooling Systems These account for about 56% of the energy in a typical U.S. home, so updating can save a lot. You can retrofit or replace your furnace or boiler, depending how long your system has to live and how much each option costs. New heating systems can achieve an efficiency of up to 97%. Appliances and Electronics Appliances account for 20% of energy use in a typical U.S. home. Old ones can be energy hogs. To find energy-efficient products, look for the Energy Star label – for more information, check energystar.gov. Water Heaters Insulating or increasing the insulation on your water heater tank and pipes can decrease heat loss and lower your energy bills for a fraction of the price of replacing your water heater. On the other hand, if your water heater is nearing the end of its life, it is probably a good idea to replace it. Solar Panels Solar panels typically have high upfront costs, though they can provide clean, free energy for years to come. Use the Solar Calculator at www.findsolar.com to estimate the cost of installing panels and how long it will take for your investment to pay you back. Financing Many cities and states have programs to help pay for green renovations. Contact your state’s energy department to see what low-interest loans, rebates, or other benefits are available. You may also qualify for tax benefits; visit the IRS’s website at www.irs.gov. For more information and additional complimentary financial education and counseling resources, visit our BALANCE page.