Millions of American homeowners plan to remodel instead of move. If you plan to remodel your home, here are some of the most effective projects when it comes to recapturing more of your hard-earned dollars by lowering your home's energy usage.

1. Insulation

The first one, though it won't show on the outside, is adding a layer of insulation to your attic. To decide if your home could use an upgrade, check to see how much you already have. If it's less than twelve inches, adding another layer will lessen your energy bills significantly.

2. Windows

Replacing wood windows with energy-efficient vinyl windows can also offer a relatively quick payback in energy costs. If the cost of replacing all your windows at once is beyond your budget, start by replacing south and west-facing windows first, to save on summer cooling costs. Then replace your east and north-facing windows to reduce heating expenses.

3. Furnace Filters

A very inexpensive upgrade is simply to change your furnace filter regularly. It can improve your cooling system's efficiency by as much as ten percent when combined with making sure your registers are clear, as well. You can save even more, while helping the environment by not having to recycle your old filter, by buying a washable filter for about $20, which can last for as long as five years if properly cared for.

4. Lighting

Changing incandescent lighting to fluorescent can also provide a strong return on investment. For instance, replacing just one quarter of your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents can reduce your home's electricity usage by 50 percent. As energy costs continue to rise, this is a great way to fight back.

5. Appliances

Finally, many of today's new appliances can save large amounts of energy when compared to their ancestors. They're also an excellent way to give your kitchen a dramatic new look while you're saving money on energy costs.

Energy costs are going to continue rising. Of that, there is no doubt. However, there are many projects that you can do yourself that will provide significant energy savings around your home, all of which will eventually pay for themselves by reducing the amount of energy your home uses.

As energy costs continue to soar, it will be well worth your while to look around your home, take stock, and see if any of these relatively easy and inexpensive projects will be right for you. You'll be pleased with the difference, and with the money you'll save.

Source by Jeanette Joy Fisher