Roadmap to Results

Ease into the process of making your home more efficient. If you're new to this, or you're on a very tight budget, start with the lowest-hanging fruit like double-checking your water heater's temperature setting.

The next easy steps are simple things that will fit into your shopping basket: maybe a few compact fluorescent lamps or a roll of weatherstripping.

When it's time to replace that old fridge, or other appliances, take time to shop smart. At a minimum, look for the ENERGY STAR rating. There are detailed lists of products that will take you even farther. Remember: you're not simply spending money, you're investing for profit and comfort.

Redoing your kitchen? New roof? Finally adding that in-law unit? Creating successful projects can take some work. Take the time to find a home performance specialist to help you think thru all the options ahead of time, and then find the right contractor with the skills to do the job right.

Not only will these upgrades pay for themselves many times over, there are all kinds of financial incentives to help you trim the cost. And many of the "non-energy benefits" will be worth more than money can buy.

And, don't forget about saving water (which also saves energy).

Stumped? Ask an expert.