Keep cooling costs down with these 5 DIY home projects

Temperatures and humidity soaring, but you can keep the hot air out and the cold air in with five do-it-yourself projects for your home.

One of the first things you can do is test how efficient your home is. You can do that by using an audit system like this one from Home Depot.

Here are five things you can do at home to save energy and in turn, save some money!

STEP ONE: Windows: Updating your windows can be an investment, but a smart investment that saves you energy and gives your home a fresh look.
·         Thanks to advances in technology, windows not only enhance the look of the home, but also keep the home cooler (warmer in the winter). It can also reduce outside noise if you consider double or triple pane windows.
·         ENERGY STAR qualified windows can help reduce your energy bill and save you from to $150 to $500 a year.
·         (Ply Gem Vinyl Window/ American Craftsman Vinyl Window) are a great option. They are durable, energy efficient and attractive for many years to come. These windows have a lifetime warranty and easy to clean vinyl.
a.      The Low-E insulating glass lowers energy costs and helps homes stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter by reflecting sunlight away from the home in hot weather and heat back into the home in cold weather.
·         Home Depot Services Once you decide on new windows, find easy and certified help on the install from The Home Depot.
·         Schedule a free in-home consultation, and The Home Depot will send an authorized service provider to your home.
·         These professionals are local, licensed and insured with The Home Depot performing background checks on all providers.
·         Once confirmed, the service provider will come to your house and perform an inspection. This is a worthwhile investment that will help identify and fix small issues saving you energy and money.
·         The Home Depot offers wood and vinyl replacement along with new window installation.

STEP TWO: Programmable Smart Thermostats: Upgrading your outdated thermostat to one that is programmable can save more than $200 a year.
·         Smart programmable thermostats like the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat are designed for ease of use and energy savings. This thermostat offers free smartphone app, smart response technology for the precise temperature and pre-programmed energy savings schedule. It also lets you know when your filter needs to be changed with auto alerts. It works with the Wink home automation network, keeping you fully connected.

STEP THREE: Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans can complement any decor, increase comfort by cooling the room, and help save money on your energy bill.
·         If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. Fans like the Hunter WhisperWindhas a motor that delivers ultra-powerful air movement with whisper-quiet performance so you get the cooling power you want without the noise.
·         The latest ceiling fans make installation quicker and easier. The Hampton Bay Rockport Ceiling Fan, for example, is exclusive to The Home Depot and includes three unique technologies: Quickinstall Blades, Slide on Mounting Bracket and AccuArm.
o    QuickInstall Blades: This quick blade installation technology is patented and exclusive to Home Depot only, there are no other quick connect blades like it on the market today
o    Slide on Mounting Bracket: Allows bracket to hold onto ceiling while wires connected, making a two person job a one-person job.
o    AccuArm: Allows for true alignment without dealing with screws.
·         To choose the right size fan, measure the room (length of the longest wall in the room)
·         Less than 12 feet – use a fan 36 inches or less
·         12 to 15 feet – use 40 to 48 inches
·         More than 15 feet – use 52 inches or more
STEP FOUR: LED LIGHT BULBS: Replace incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs. Replacing standard lightbulbs with energy efficient LEDs will bring you immediate savings on your electricity bill and can be done in minutes.
·         LEDs use 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs get hot—that’s why you can’t touch them when they’re on—LED technology does not produce heat and conserve energy.
·         This Eco Smart LED is exclusive technology to The Home Depot and lasts longer than a decade, so you don’t have to worry about changing bulbs.
·         Eco Smart is brighter than competitors (800 lumens versus 750) so you need less bulbs to brighten space.
o    This bulb has an estimated annual energy cost of only $1.08/bulb (about 80% less than incandescent) saving money on your energy bills.
·         REBATES: A lot of these bulbs and other products apply towards energy efficiency rebates, you can go on homedepot.com to see what does just type in rebate finder  http://www.homedepot.com/rebate-center

STEP FIVE: SEAL THE GAPS WITH CAULK:  Sealing air leaks around your home with caulking and insulation can save 10 – 20% on power bills.
Caulk, like DAP, can seal the cracks and openings to the outside to keep the cool air in and warm air out.
Consider using a weather-resistant foam sealant, like Great Stuff, if sealing in a visible place. It resists moisture and can be sanded, painted and stained for a more appealing look.