Energy efficiency has become a high priority for most families and businesses. It is good for the environment, the economy and your budget. Besides being “clean and green” and lowering your carbon footprint, becoming energy efficient presents a great opportunity to save money. It’s a win-win for everyone, and it’s not difficult to achieve. There are dozens of ways to get started, ranging from changing your energy usage habits to contracting a professional for a home energy audit.

The simplest way to get started is to conduct your own basic home energy audit, described below, and to adopt a few new habits. has a good list of simple steps you can take. Unplugging your phone charger when it’s not in use to avoid phantom loads and turning fans and lights off in empty rooms seem like obvious habits, but they need to become routine. Lighting costs constitute 10% of most households’ electricity bills. You can cut a further 75% from your lighting bill by switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs (known as CFLs), and even more with LED bulbs.

Changing the settings on household appliances can bring down your power usage too. Turn down your water heater to 120°F. Set the thermostat on your air conditioning to 78°F instead of 72°F during the summer. (That can reduce your cooling bill by up to 18%.) Programmable thermostats which automatically reduce furnace and A/C usage can save up to $150 a year on cooling, and far more on heating. Inaccurate temperature information can make the furnace or A/C do more work than necessary, so move your TV, computer, lamps and other heat-producing appliances a few feet away from your thermostats so they don’t think the room is warmer than it really is. offers a DIY guide to performing a simple but effective home energy audit that will help you identify major energy wasters in the home itself and its major systems, while making it easier for a professional energy assessor to follow up. The basics of the home audit include locating and fixing air leaks, testing ventilation, meeting recommended insulation levels and ensuring that vapor barriers are installed.

Ultimately, performing an energy audit will help you decide where to invest and determine how long it will take to reap the rewards. Besides reducing your energy consumption and saving money, you may simply enjoy the extra comfort of living in a warmer, better insulated house.

Solar energy installer TerraSol Energies encourages all homeowners in Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware to take steps to save energy. Learn more about TerraSol.