Many homeowners are cutting back this year in an effort to save cash. But a few simple improvements to make your home more energy efficient can provide enormous return on your investment.

“If you could invest a few dollars and save $100, you’d do that, right? That’s what you’re doing when you invest in making your home more energy efficient,” says Michael Chenard, director of environmental affairs at Lowe’s. “An inexpensive air filter replaced at recommended intervals can save you $100 or more on your heating and cooling bills. Making your home more energy efficient saves you real money.”

Chenard recommends checking out Lowes.com/BuildYourSavings, to answer a few questions about your home and receive a list of recommended home improvements along with your estimated cost savings. He also suggests several ways to save money in your home.

Utility Savings:
Toilets – Replace an old, inefficient toilet with a WaterSense-labeled model and you can save up to $90 per year off your water bill, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Light bulbs – When you replace your five most-used incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR-qualified compact fluorescent blubs, you can save up to $70 a year. According to the EPA, the average cost of a CFL bulb is between $4 and $9, but they pay for themselves quickly in savings on your utility bill.

Programmable thermostats – As little as $30 and an hour or two is all it takes to save up to $500 a year, according to a 2008 article in Money magazine. ENERGY STAR-qualified thermostats with pre-programmed settings are intended to deliver savings without sacrificing comfort. For instance, your thermostat can automatically adjust the home’s temperature during sleeping hours or when no one is home achieving significant savings. The EPA recommends raising your thermostat four degrees in the summer and lowering it seven in the winter. Savings may vary depending on where in the country you live.

Do-it-yourself Savings:
Lawn maintenance – If you use a professional lawn service to mow, trim and maintain your lawn and landscaping, simply doing it yourself can save up to $900 a year, based on the national average paid for professional services.

Pest control – If you’ve got termites, ants or rodents, you might be tempted to throw up your hands and call a pest control service. But you can do your own pest control easily and affordably and save up to $300 a year, based on a national average of professional pest services four times per year.

Tax Credits:
Windows – Replacing 300 square feet of old, single-pane windows with more energy-efficient ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can save more than $460 every year in energy costs, according to the EPA. You’ll notice a difference in the summer when you don’t need to run your air conditioner as often and in the winter when your heater can rest more often.

Sealing and insulation – If you have less than 15 inches of insulation in your attic you can save money by adding more and also use expanding foam insulation to seal cracks and gaps where air seeps in and gets out and you can save up to $500 in annual energy costs, according to a 2008 Money magazine article.

“In addition to the savings you’ll see in your monthly bills through energy-efficient improvements, you may be able to take advantage of the tax credits in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” says Chenard. “Certain energy-efficient improvements to residential properties, like replacement windows, are eligible for up to 30 percent of the cost of improvements (up to $1,500) in tax credits under the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit.”

For more information and additional energy saving ideas, visit Lowe’s stores in United States and Canada and Lowes.com/BuildYourSavings.

Simple home changes that save big money