For homeowners and bill-paying renters, the cheapest way to save money on utilities is to reduce consumption. In summer, raising the temperature setting on your air conditioner or using a high-speed floor fan on all but the hottest days can drastically cut air conditioning costs. In winter, you can really trim your gas or oil bill by wrapping your windows, lowering your thermostat a few degrees, and settling into your favorite sweater.
Such fixes are fast, easy, and effective. But they don’t permanently reduce your fossil fuel-burning appliances’ carbon footprints or improve your home’s ability to retain warm or cool air. To make a lasting, meaningful difference in your home’s energy profile, more involved – and often expensive – home improvements and upgrades are required.