House Interior — Vinyl Siding in [[cms:structured_address_city]], [[cms:structured_address_state]]

Have your home heating bills seemed outrageous this past winter and/or your home cooling bills are already breaking your budget, even though summer has just begun? Then it is important to learn what changes you can make to your home to save money on home energy year-round.

 While many homeowners assume that the key to keeping home heating and cooling bills low is having more insulation installed inside their walls, this assumption is not always the case; unless you feel drafts around your light-switch covers and/or your interior walls seem very cold in the winter or hot in the summer, the cause of your sky-rocketing energy bills is likely not a lack of proper wall insulation.

To improve the energy efficiency of your home and lower your home energy bills year-round, read on to learn about two small changes you should make to your home that both offer a large return on your investment dollar.

1. Energy-Efficient Home Windows

The average homeowner who lives in the Northern United States watches their energy bills drop by 22 percent when they replace single-pane windows with more energy-efficient double-pane windows. However, you could watch your energy bills drop even more each year after investing in new windows if your current windows are drafty. In fact, the average home loses 30 percent of its heated and cooled air through drafts in windows and doors alone.

Of course, the drop every homeowner experiences in their energy bills will vary, but if you can only make one change to your home this summer to lower your home energy bills, then replacing your windows is likely the best option.

When looking to save money on home energy bills, it is important to choose the right windows and have them installed by experienced window installation experts, such as Nu-Image Installs, to experience the best return on your dollar. Even the best new windows installed improperly could leave you with unexpected, new drafts or little change in your energy bills.

For the best energy efficiency, choose windows with a low U-factor, which is the measurement of the windows' overall insulation capabilities. To save more on energy in the summer, also opt for a low-E window coating that will reflect much of that summer heat to lower your cooling bills.

The style of your new windows and frame material will also affect how well they protect your home from outside air. The most energy-efficient window styles due to their low air-leakage rates include awning, casement, and fixed windows. Vinyl replacement windows are very popular due to the superior insulation vinyl window frames provide compared to their wooden or aluminum counterparts.

2. New Exterior Doors

Depending on the age of your exterior doors and the material they and their frames are made of, having them replaced with newer, more energy-efficient ones could also help lower your energy bills year-round. If your home is equipped with wooden doors, then replacing them with fiberglass or steel doors is a great idea.

Exterior doors that are the most energy efficient have tight-fitting frames that prevent air leakage, although having additional weatherstripping applied to each door can further decrease the chances of drafts occurring around your new doors. Unlike windows that are typically rated by their U-factors, doors are typically rated by their R-values. The higher the R-value of a door, the better insulation it will offer your home. Polyurethane foam insulation cores add additional energy efficiency to both steel and fiberglass doors.

When speaking with a contractor about your door replacement options, request Energy Star-qualified doors that have been tested by an outside source to be sure they live up to the manufacturer's energy efficiency claims. Of course, just like when you have new home windows installed, the energy efficiency of your new doors also relies on proper installation by home contractors experienced with exterior door installation.