Here’s a cheap way to knock down your energy consumption: Replace your old thermostat with a programmable model. The government estimates you’ll save about $180 a year by programming your thermostat to turn the heat and a/c down when you’re asleep or away from the house and up when you’re home.
You can buy a basic programmable thermostat for $20 to $50. You can get fancier models with built-in Wi-Fi that lets you adjust the temperature remotely with your smartphone, but they’re more than $200 apiece and strike me as being completely unnecessary. If you think you’d use it enough to make it worth the price difference, go for it. Personally, I don’t see the point. If I had $200 to blow on electronics, I’d spend $30 on a thermostat and the rest on one of those sonic-screwdriver remote controls that allow you to walk into a sports bar and shut off any TV that annoys you just by giving it your very best Oncoming Storm glare and waving your sonic in its general direction.
Anyway. Ron says our thermostat cost less than $40 and took him about half an hour to install. You don’t need to be an electrician to do it; just throw the breaker to the thermostat, follow the directions in the package, and turn the power back on when you’re done. Allons-y!