But that's not the only way to save energy around your home. Consumer Reports shines a light on tax credits and other tips that can help you save on your energy bills.
You can probably cut your energy costs by 20 percent or more by adding insulation and energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment. And you can save even more if you qualify for Federal Energy Tax Credits due to expire at the end of the year. You can get a 30 percent tax credit of up to $1,500 on energy-efficiency improvements, such as adding insulation, sealing air leaks, and installing more reflective roofing.
There are also federal energy tax credits available until 2017 for renewable energy systems, such as geothermal heat pumps and small wind turbines. But you can also save energy by making simple changes around your own home.
Five to 10 percent of your home's electricity goes to devices that continue to draw power even when they're not in use. So whenever possible, unplug devices such as your coffeemaker and your cell phone after it's fully charged.
Another energy-saver is to change the viewing mode on your TV. In the store, TVs are usually set with the brightness turned up high. But at home you can switch to the mode called "home use," which is more energy efficient.
And last but not least, adjust thermostat temperatures by 5 to 10 degrees at night and when you're not home. That can trim as much as 20 percent off your heating and cooling bills.
For more information on energy tax credits, go to www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/october/home-garden/saving-energy/energy-tax-credits/index.htm.
Also check for Cash for Appliances programs that award rebates if you buy more energy-efficient appliances.
Check www.energysavers.gov to see whether there is still a program in your state.