Hello! I am here to tell you how you can cut down your heating and or cooling bills by doing some simple modifications to your home. These won't be overhauls, just helpful projects to do on a saturday to help you save money, and along with that, save our natural resources! So, all in all, this will be killing two birds with one stone.
Step 1: First Area of Interest: the Attic
OK. The attic may be the most crucial place to think about during this instructable, as it is thought to be a way to majorly take down your heating and cooling bills. But first, let's do a review on how insulation works. It works because the fibers found in insulation are to capture pockets of air, to significantly slow the process of heat conduction, from inside or outside. Now, R values rate on how effective the insulation is at doing this process. If you live closer North, go for near R 49. Closer South, like Florida, go closer to 20. That being said, you must make sure that the insulation in your attic is close to these R values. If they are to low, you may have heat escaping in your attic. The reason why the attic is so insanely crucial is because heat rises, and thus into your attic. If you notice that your insulation is wet or damp, you should weather proof your roof so that this does not happen. Maybe as a precaution, you should weather proof your roof either way. You should also make sure you replace your shingles every several years so that water runs down smooth. That is about it for the attic, besides that if you have a window in it, you should definately make sure it is sealed well. If not, get new rubber seals (I think there are energy star approved ones, but maybe not).
Step 2: Your Main Floor
For your main floor, I would recommend checking every door and window to inspect for loose rubber strips on them. For doors that lead to the outside or to your garage, I recommend getting an air tight strip for bordering your door. It keeps bitter cold air out (or hot air, depending on season) and the air you want inside. Happy happy.
When those kitchen appliances get old, by the way, make sure you replace them with, or at least consider, an energy star approved appliance. Energy star approved means that it is labeled as energy saving compared to other brands, and in the long run, saving you some cash.
Now, when your lightbulbs burn out, absolutely, positively, replace them with florescent bulbs! Now, these beauties may be more expensive at first, but first of all, they last a lot longer, and second of all, they waste a lot less energy than non-floresents. Did you know that non-floresent bulbs waste 70% of the energy they recieve from their sockets radiating heat? Only 30% goes for your light. Floresents are a lot more efficient than that. That is why I recommend doing this (do this to your attic lights too, by the way).
Step 3: Your Basement
Aside from also putting floresents down there, your basement can be improved. First of all, if your basement is one of those concrete areas, it actually may pay off to insulate it. Although heat rises, you still lose heat from it. But that is not the main point. You see, insulation in the basement is for keeping out weather, too. But if it is concrete, and you do not plan to insulate, at least seal it. Sealing your basement can be done by yourself, and quite easily. You buy it in buckets at a department store, and then use a sponge mop to spread it about. If you plan to take my advice on insulating your basement, the insulation should probably be a little higher R value than your main floor's.
As for you people that have a finished basement, make sure you have a good humidity level, about 55 or so. If it is high, you may want to run a dehumidifier to take out the moisture, which in due time, can cause mold. If it is too dry for comfort, run a humidifier. But make sure either is from energy star, as dehumidifiers use lots of energy. Windows and possibly doors should be sealed.
Step 4: Trust ENERGY STAR!!!
Anything with the energy star'logo you can trust to save you more money than the competitors!