For both first-time home buyers and long-time homeowners, a higher-than-expected energy bill can be a major budget shock. With energy costs expected to once again rise this summer, that means even less money in your wallet at the end of the month. That’s why now is a great time to think about both short-term and long-term ways to make your home more energy-efficient. Let’s explore how to do just that.

Prioritize your HVAC systems and appliances

You may think about paying your electric bill as “keeping the lights on,” but the real saying should be “keeping the air conditioner on.” After all, the average homeowner spends 47% of their energy bill cooling or heating their home, depending on the season. Add in your water heater and your washer and dryer, and these systems alone account for a whopping 74% of the average monthly energy bill here in the United States.

This means that anything you can do to make your air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace more energy-efficient is going to pay major dividends. If you have an older, inefficient unit, that might mean upgrading to a new system with a much higher efficiency rating. For those with a newer system, consider having a professional inspect the unit annually—a seasonal tune-up can help lower your energy bills. Other actions—such as installing a programmable thermostat or having your ducts professionally sealed—can reduce your energy waste even more. That means more money in your pocket after you pay your much lower bill next month.

Make smart upgrades to your home

If you’re looking to cut down on your energy bills and add value to your home, consider making some energy upgrades this year. These upgrades range from replacing single-pane windows with dual-pane ones to swapping out older light bulbs for CFL or LED bulbs.

Ready to get started saving money? Consult with a local, certified energy upgrade specialist in your area for an individualized report on what you can improve in your home. You can then start to tackle these energy-saving upgrades one-by-one as allowed by your budget and time. You’ll be on the road to better energy savings in no time!

Become an energy conscious homeowner

Most energy waste in the home is passive. This means that the waste comes from inherent flaws in the system, such as leaky air ducts or an inefficient air conditioner, rather than human actions like turning the lights on-and-off. Still, once you’ve addressed the passive energy waste in your home, there’s a lot more that you and your family can do to lower your energy bills.

Here’s a big one: talk to your local utility provider about cost-saving energy plans. Nationwide, many electric companies offer lower rates to homeowners who agree to cut their energy use during peak hours (in most places, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.). Enrolling in such a plan can also save you money if your family doesn’t use much electricity during that window of time.

For even more energy-saving tips, check out this infographic from the team at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing:

tips to save on energy at home