Looking for ways to save energy around the house is one of the most important things a homeowner can do. You save money on your utility bills — sometimes hundreds of dollars per year — and help the environment at the same time. Efficiency features can increase the value of your home and even improve your happiness in life. Yet plenty of people ignore measures they could be taking, even if they are free. Why?

Too Busy for Efficiency

One answer may be that we have too many other distractions in our lives, according to a study run by a collaboration of the University of California Berkeley, the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study looks at participation in the Federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), in which the government provides an average of $5,000 in efficiency upgrades to low-income families. The program is free to participants, and slashes their utility bills, freeing up money they can spend on other things. There’s no apparent downside.

But in the study, only 2 percent of control group families bothered to apply to the program, and only 15 percent of households applied even after they were heavily encouraged by the researchers. The study’s conclusion: There are other non-monetary costs at play. To take advantage of WAP, families have to spend time filling out paperwork, communicating with contractors and dealing with construction on their home. That’s all while working, commuting, cooking and confronting other family issues.

Come Out Ahead

The same principle could apply to any homeowner considering efficiency measures, with or without government assistance. A family might understand the benefits of using solar panels, for example, but just not have the time or mental energy to deal with the task of researching them, contacting a vendor and going through with the installation.

In effect, the process is too daunting for some. Even with the promise of future savings, to act proactively can be too much effort. However, homeowners who do take the time to improve their efficiency are the ones who come out ahead in the end.

Find the Time for Upgrades

Don’t miss out on savings. If you have the motivation, consider some steps you can take to cut down on your energy use:

One-time fixes to improve your efficiency:

  • Make sure your insulation is up to par and you seal any leaks or cracks to keep your heat and air conditioning inside.
  • Purchase Energy Star compliant appliances for maximum efficiency.
  • Install a smart thermostat to keep your heating bills down.
  • Upgrade your light bulbs to the latest, energy-saving versions.
  • Have solar panels installed on your roof to capture the energy of the sun.

Good recurring habits that will save you money:

  • Turn the lights out when you leave a room.
  • Unplug your electronics when they aren’t in use to avoid energy vampires.
  • Make sure you use the energy-saving settings on your appliances.
  • Schedule regular maintenance on your heating and cooling systems to keep them running at peak efficiency.

For a more comprehensive set of ideas, call a professional to give your home an energy audit and point out even more places you can upgrade your efficiency.

Contact local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® to schedule maintenance of your heating and cooling system, and for more ways to conserve energy in your home.