Your Energy Crisis Solved

Soaring utility bills mean it's time to do triage on the biggest losers.

Feeling pinched by utility bills? It's no wonder: Since 2001 home-energy costs have more than tripled, rising from an average of $600 annually to $1,900. There are plenty of ways to trim costs this summer, including turning down the air conditioner, closing your blinds, adding weather stripping and insulation and getting rid of an old refrigerator in the basement. The savings will be especially dramatic if your home shows symptoms of energy illness: draftiness, a room that's always too hot or too cold or even a musty smell.

Give your home a physical

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Programmable thermostat$40$1005 months
Compact fluorescent bulbs30507 months
Furnace5004001 year, 4 months
Clothes washer300506 years
Windows600906 years, 6 months
Central air conditioner*4003511 years, 5 months

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Patricia Mertz Esswein
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Esswein joined Kiplinger in May 1984 as director of special publications and managing editor of Kiplinger Books. In 2004, she began covering real estate for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, writing about the housing market, buying and selling a home, getting a mortgage, and home improvement. Prior to joining Kiplinger, Esswein wrote and edited for Empire Sports, a monthly magazine covering sports and recreation in upstate New York. She holds a BA degree from Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minn., and an MA in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University.