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The Best Ways for Illinois Residents to better their Energy Bills in 2012

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about how you can cut energy costs in 2012 by decreasing the amount of electricity, natural gas, and water you use. After all, who doesn’t want to optimize their bill this year? But many of the types of changes you’d have to make go beyond simply turning off the lights when you leave the room. A lot of the things you can do to make your use of electricity, natural gas, and water more efficient require you to spend money on home improvements. If only there were a convenient way for Illinois residents to quickly compare the costs and benefits of common home improvements and other efficiency projects.

That’s where we come in. We’ve taken data from Energy Impact Illinois (EI2), an organization led by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and analyzed it so that you can get a quick idea of home improvements you can make to lower your monthly bills, how much the improvements cost and how soon you can expect to make your money back and start saving.

Top 10 Most Efficient Home Improvements

It’s important to understand how efficient home improvement projects are. One of the best ways to rank the efficiency of a home improvement is to compare the cost of the improvement to the amount of money you can expect to save every year after making the upgrade. That will let you know how soon you can recoup your investment and when you’ll really start to save some money. According to EI2, here are the top 10 most efficient home improvements Illinois residents can make.

Rank

Improvement

Average
Cost

Average
Annual Savings

Annual
Payback %

1.

Install a faucet aerator

$5

$10-25

200-500%

2.

Upgrade to CFL light blubs

$15

$28-75

186-500%

3.

Dry clothes on drying rack or clothesline

$20

$23-70

115-350%

4.

Upgrade to a low-flow showerhead

$25

$25-82

100-328%

5.

Change out your furnace filter

$10

$10-30

100-300%

6.

Install a programmable thermostat

$50

$131

262%

7.

Insulate your water heater

$25

$10-27

40-108%

8.

Seal air leaks around your home

$200

$150

75%

9.

Insulate your home’s attic/roof

$1,000

$300

30%

10.

Install a solar water heater

$1,000

$209-323

20-32%

 

Top 10 Home Improvements with the Highest Annual Savings

For those who’d like to see which home improvements simply save the most bucks, here’s a list of the top 10 home improvements that produce the highest annual savings, according to EI2.

Rank

Improvement

Average
Cost

Average
Annual Savings

Annual
Payback %

1.

Install solar panels on your roof

$12,000

$259-863

2-7%

2.

Insulate your home’s exterior walls

$2,500

$90-350

4-14%

3.

Insulate your home’s attic/roof

$1,000

$300

30%

4.

Install a solar water heater

$1,000

$209-323

20-32%

5.

Upgrade to a tankless water heater

$700

$80-200

11-29%

6.

Upgrade to a high efficiency gas furnace or boiler

$1,000

$66-180

7-18%

7.

Seal air leaks around your home

$200

$150

75%

8.

Install a programmable thermostat

$50

$131

262%

9.

Upgrade to a high efficiency clothes washing machine

$600

$80-120

10-20%

10.

Upgrade to a heat pump water heater

$1,000

$49-101

5-10%

 

Top 9 Free Ways to Save Money off Energy Bills

What list of efficiency improvements would be complete without a look at the top free ways you can lower energy costs? Most of these ways simply require that you make a decision or change a behavior and all of them can start saving you money right away.

Rank

Improvement

Average Annual Savings

1.

Lower your thermostat in the winter*

$28-132

2.

Wash clothes in cold water

$60-110

3.

Raise your thermostat in the summer*

$34-93

4.

Get rid of a second refrigerator

$20-80

5.

Lower your water heater temperature**

$28-61

6.

Use celling fans instead of your air conditioners

$37-53

7.

Use a power strip for electronics and appliances

$22-35

8.

Close your blinds or curtains during summer days

$15-35

9.

Clean your air conditioner filter

$10-30

* At least 10 degrees for eight hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

** To at most 120 degrees. Every 10-degree reduction in water heater temperature can save between 3-5 percent in monthly energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sources

Energy Impact Illinois, Find Energy-Saving Actions & Incentives.

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Lower Water Heating Temperature for Energy Savings.

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Thermostats and Control Systems.

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