3 summer projects to make your home more efficient

Take some time this summer to invest in your home’s energy efficiency. Here are three projects that will pay off in lower energy bills.

1. Install a programmable thermostat. It’s truly one of the best ways to save energy, and not just in the summer. The catch: It doesn’t save energy if you don’t program it. Tell it to raise the temperature of your home by at least seven degrees when everyone leaves the house for the day, and four degrees at bedtime. You could save $180 a year.

2. Change your a/c filters. You should do it every three months—unless you live in a particularly dusty climate. In that case, change the filter every month. Dirty filters prevent air from flowing through them, and that forces your a/c to work extra-hard. That’s a big waste of energy.

3. Switch to LED lights. Make the switch this summer from outdated, incandescent bulbs and even compact fluorescents. LED lights save more energy and last longer. Look for the Energy Star label on light bulbs; those use up to 90 percent less energy and give off less heat, and can save you more than $30 on electricity over the life of the bulb or fixture.