By Beth Kobliner, REDBOOK
Our resident money genius explains how a few home projects can majorly slash your heating bill.
1. Audit your house. The average family spends at least $2,000 on energy costs annually - but wastes over $200 on heat and cooling because of poor insulation. An energy audit will show you how much money is slipping out of the windows, as well as other money sucks to avoid, like leaving electronics and chargers plugged in all the time. Ask your utility company if they'll set you up with an auditor for free. If not, find one at resnet.us - it'll cost between $300 to $500 but could save you $650 a year.
Related: 3 Women Who've Learned to Be Happy Living on Less Money
2. Keep heat in. Some repairs suggested in an audit are easy to do yourself with inexpensive materials you can find at the hardware store, such as spray foam, caulk, and weather stripping for sealing leaky windows and cracks. Use the how-to guide at energystar.gov to get started.
Related: Keep Your Kids Active This Winter
3. Go green, get paid. Many tax credits for eco-friendly home improvements expired in 2011, but depending on your family's income, you may still be able to score financial assistance for energysaving switches through the Department of Energy. See if you qualify at eere.energy.gov/wip.
REDBOOK's money expert, Beth Kobliner, is the author of Get a Financial Life and is on the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability.
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