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5 home energy wasters

We've talked about the work of energy auditors and how they identify inefficiencies and recommend energy-friendly solutions for homeowners and business owners. But what are some of the biggest energy wasters?

1. WINDOWS

Windows can make or break a home's energy efficiency. Single-paned windows, often found in older buildings, provide very little insulation in cold weather.

There are a number of ways to make windows more efficient, as well as newer designs that help homes keep in heat during the winter and cool air during the summer, all while keeping energy use down year round.

2. AIR LEAKS

Air leaks can be sneaky, affecting a number of places inside and outside of a home. Areas where the foundation and the home exterior meet, as well as outdoor water faucets are common outdoor culprits, while windows, door frames and baseboards can cause problems inside.

Many of these leaks can be sealed with caulking or weather strips to keep things airtight.

3. LIGHT BULBS

Saving energy can be as simple as changing a light bulb. Ninety percent of the energy used by standard incandescent bulbs is given off as heat.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing the five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs in a home with models that have earned an Energy Star certification can save $75 each year. Affordable, energy-efficient options include halogen, CFL and LED light bulbs.

4. OLD APPLIANCES

''Retro'' may be in these days, but older models of refrigerators, washing machines, and other appliances use much more energy than their modern counterparts - totally not cool. If homeowners can afford to replace these items with a newer model, they can check to see if the appliance has earned an Energy Star certification.

There are also tools for calculating the estimated electricity usage of appliances, old and new.

5. ELECTRONICS

A homeowner's electronics may be using more energy than they think. According to the Department of Energy, the most electricity used by home electronics is consumed when the devices are ''off.''

This wasted energy, commonly referred to as ''standby power,'' can be avoided by plugging devices into a power strip, which can be turned off when the items aren't in use.