4 ways to remodel and reduce utility costs

Although utility costs can be considered a necessity, there are a few ways that you can cut down on these expenses without sacrificing your personal comfort.

Simple changes, such as switching to environmentally efficient light bulbs and turning off the shower while you lather can be done on your own, but more dramatic changes will require the help of a professional to ensure optimum safety and efficacy.

The next time you're making plans for a home remodeling project, consider these options to improve your living space and reduce your utility costs.

1. Weatherize your home
According to ENERGY STAR, plugging air leaks in a home can save up to 10 percent on heating bills, fuel consumption, and emissions during the heating season.

Sealing these leaks is relatively inexpensive and the end result will lower your gas and electric bills. Preventing outside air from coming in and inside air from going out would mean that your heating and cooling systems won't have to run as long.

2. Install solar panels
To help your home generate electricity sourced from nature, install solar panels on your roof. When the bulk of your energy use is derived from the sun's rays, you will notice a dramatic decrease in your home's electricity bills.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, installing solar panels in addition to using energy efficient light bulbs and appliances can help reduce your home's electricity bill by 60 percent.

3. Replace your old toilet with a more efficient one
According to the EPA, older toilet models can use up to seven gallons of water per flush, compared to just 1.6 gallons per flush with newer, more efficient models.

This difference in water consumption can save homeowners up to $150 per year. Talk to your remodeling contractor about installing a new, environmentally efficient toilet for reduces water usage and a lower bill.

4. Install a garbage disposal. In addition to saving on the cost of trash bags and trash cans, installing a garbage disposal can reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill.

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