A huge burden gets lifted off your shoulders once your mortgage is paid off. Once the celebration is over, you may decide to take another look at your house to see how you can reduce your rolling, monthly expenses. You may be wondering, “How can I become more energy efficient and cut back on my energy costs?” At energy.gov and energysavers.gov, there are many energy saving tips for consumers to help them seal up their homes, minimize their expenses and contribute to a healthier environment.

Heating and cooling systems are the most important consideration if your goal is to become more efficient in your use of energy. Americans emit 150 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year just heating and cooling their homes. Although there are several different types of fuels to heat our houses, more than 50% of us use natural gas.

By focusing on improving insulation, air sealing and thermostat settings, the U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy agency says we can reduce our environmental emissions by 20-50%. Ideally, homeowners will set their thermostat as low as possible in the winter and as high as possible in the summer. They will replace air filters on furnaces once a month, clean air registers or radiators, bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once a season, turn fans off within 20 minutes after using them, keep drapes open during the winter, keep windows covered during the summer and purchase Energy Star furnaces and cooling units.

When making your home more energy efficient, start with making your residence a more impenetrable fort with energy efficient home insulation and sealing. This is the best way to reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs, as well as make your home more comfortable. Proper moisture and ventilation systems will add to the efficiency and the healthiness of your home environment as well. Once you’ve identified where the leaks exist in your home, you can retrofit door frames and windows with better caulking and weather-stripping. You may need to add insulation to your attic, basement, garage, walls or floors. Installing fans for ventilation and moisture control is also important to reduce the indoor air contaminants during this process.

Lastly, yet another way to be more energy efficient is by harnessing wind energy. Many people living in urban and suburban areas cannot take full advantage of wind power because they do not have enough space to set up a small wind turbine. However, they may have the option to choose to derive some of their electricity from a local windmill. Homeowners who have at least one acre of land and a little bit of wind may be able to generate their own electricity, lowering their electricity bills by 50-90%. This system is most economically viable for people whose electricity bills exceed $150/month.