Consumer Reports: Slash your energy bill

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Most U.S. families spend thousands of dollars a year on home utility bills. (WLS)

Most U.S. families spend thousands of dollars a year on home utility bills. But Consumer Reports says you can slash 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.

Using high-tech equipment, an energy auditor can pinpoint every source of energy-loss in a home.

"When you heat your home, you want to make sure that heat stays in. This is measuring how much is leaving the house," said Tom Brown, Energy Savings Consultant.

Even if you don't hire a professional, Consumer Reports says knowing where most homes waste energy can help you focus your own efficiency efforts.

"Most important is your heating and cooling systems, which are responsible for roughly half of your home's energy use," said Dan DiClerico, Consumer Reports.

Make sure your ductwork is properly sealed and insulated. Add extra insulation to your attic and plug drafty windows with caulk or weather-stripping. Another important step - upgrading your thermostat.

"A programmable thermostat can trim your energy bill by automatically reducing your heating and cooling when you need it least," DiClerico said.

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. 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: switch to LED blubs, which use 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lighting," DiClerico said.

Because LEDs claim to last 20 years or longer, you won't be buying bulbs as often.

If you do want to hire an energy auditor to assess your home, Consumer Reports says to be wary of companies advertising "free or low-cost" energy audits. They can be scams. You can find a certified energy auditor in our area at

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2015. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
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