This might come as a surprise to you, but approximately half of your energy use goes to heating and cooling your home. Fortunately, there are many ways to cut that down, including insulation, air sealing, programmable thermostats and more. Of course, you should start by making sure that your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system is working properly. In fact, it's estimated that if you just upgrade to an ENERGY STAR® HVAC unit, you could save up to $200 a year on your electricity bill!

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1. Keep Your HVAC System Tuned

To ensure energy-efficient cooling and heating in your home, be sure to change your filters at least once every 3 months and even more often during winter and summer. You should also have your equipment checked annually by a professional. And if your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, consider upgrading to an ENERGY STAR® system, which is specifically designed to save both energy and money.

2. Reduce Your Air Leakage

Air leaks through your windows, doors, ducts, chimney and even your electrical outlets. The problem is that you've spent a considerable portion of your energy bill heating that air in winter and cooling it in summer. Find out how to reduce your air leakage and cut your energy costs at Air Leakage Tips.

3. Upgrade Your Windows

If you want to go beyond window sealing, you might consider window replacement. It's estimated that you could save up to $501 per year, depending on your location, by replacing your old windows with new ENERGY STAR® windows that can block 70% of the solar heat in the summer and reflect radiant heat indoors during the winter. (Savings based on average annual energy use for a 2,000 square foot, single story, detached house with 300 square feet of window area, gas heat and electric air conditioning. Click here for savings methodology).

4. Insulate Your Attic

Did you know that 80% of homes built before 1980 are under insulated? Chances are that you're spending more money than you need on energy and that you're not as cool in the summer or as warm in the winter as you'd like. Find out more about energy-efficient heating and cooling to learn the basics of insulation — or contact your local professional.

5. Install a Programmable Thermostat

According to the Department of Energy, you can save up to 10% on your heating and cooling costs by turning your thermostat back 10-15% for 8 hours a day. What's more, there are several programmable thermostats that make this an easy and automated task, including one that you can adjust by phone.

6. Install a Ceiling Fan

It's well known that ceiling fans are a great way to cool your home during the summer and that they use considerably less energy than your air conditioning unit. But what's less well known is that they can also help warm your home in the winter by drawing the heat that's risen to the ceiling down into the room.

7. Use Space Heaters and Portable Fans

Your HVAC system is designed to heat and cool your whole house. However, there are days when you spend most of your time in one or two rooms. That's when you should consider lowering your thermostat and using a space heater in winter or raising your thermostat and using a portable fan in summer. It doesn't make sense to heat or cool rooms that are empty.