NORTHFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio - How about getting paid more than a thousand dollars to improve your home? It's possible if you take advantage of one of the many energy efficient programs run by utilties. They're helping you save, knowing it will save energy and save the utility from building another power plant.
Whether your home is big or small, old or new, updated or outdated, there are things you can do to save money on your utility bills. You just have to know where to look.
"A lot of the recommendations we give our customers are very inexpensive ways to fix their home," GoodCents Building Analyst Rodney Murphy said.
Murphy's title and tools may blow you away, but his price won't.
"It is such a wonderful value to homeowners for $50 you get so much information," homeowner Kathy Petron said.
Petron once paid several hundred dollars for an audit at her parent's home. As part of a program with Dominion East Ohio , Petron is paying just $50 for an audit worth $500.
For $50, you'll get do-it-yourself energy saving tools like a door sweep, insulating foam, caulk and sink and shower attachments that reduce your water usage.
If you make the improvements the analyst suggests, the audit is also free.
"I know I need to do some work here so what I want to do is put my money toward the best value," Petron explained.
Caulk is most valuable in most homes. Caulk door seams, window trim, baseboards, and along the chimney upstairs.
"This is one of the biggest areas of heat loss in a home, right around the chimney," Murphy explained.
You can fill the gaps around the chimney downstairs with firesafe foam, especially if they are big.
Don't forget about the gaps in your outlets. They leak a lot of air. Buy insulated outlet covers and add child safety plugs to plug up the hole that's pushing cold air inside your home.
"When I go to sell the home I can say here's where it was, here's what I've done. I've improved the home tremendously," Petron explained.
Dominion is offering you rebates toward many improvements. Install a new furnace and save up to $450, seal off any leaks and save $40 an hour, install a programmable thermostat and save $30. You can save up to $1,250 total.
You'll save even more long term. The program focuses on the envelope of your home, but FirstEnergy has a program that helps you save on appliances and even offers free thermostats.
FirstEnergy is giving away free programmable thermostats through Honeywell. Honeywell claims the thermostat will reduce your energy costs by up to 15 percent. The program is called Easy Cool Rewards . Call 1-888-243-0992 to get one installed.
Programs like this one have rolled out across the country. Consumers need to understand there is a slight catch to the free thermostat. Once it's installed, the utility may cycle the air conditioning unit on and off during peak usage days to avoid blackouts. You can also opt out of one cycling event once a year. The cycling happens typically during peak energy usage from noon to 7 p.m.
Click on the house above to learn about other ways you can save on energy improvements.