Because I live in an area with very severe weather, energy efficiency is extremely important to me. I rely on either the furnace or the air conditioner for the majority of the year, and spend a fortune on monthly utility bills. I’ve done a whole bunch of research into energy conservation, and I’ve taken advantage of all the tips. Every year, I go around and check the caulk and weatherstripping around the windows and exterior doors. I hired a contractor to improve the level of insulation in my walls and ceilings, and installed a whole bunch of ceiling fans. I’m diligent about replacing the air filter in the air conditioner and furnace, and have enrolled in a maintenance contractor with a local HVAC contractor. The most beneficial improvements I’ve made have been to upgrade the thermostat and duct system. I spent nearly three hundred dollars on a smart thermostat, and it paid for itself in less than two years. The thermostat automatically works to trim energy usage by catering to my regular schedule. The smart thermostat is linked to my smartphone, and it knows where I am. If I’m at home, I enjoy ideal comfort levels. When I leave, the thermostat adjusts operation of the furnace or air conditioner to draw less energy. It also alerts me to the need for filter changes, regular maintenance or a sudden problem with the system. Along with the smart thermostat, I’ve invested in duct cleaning and sealing every three years. Fixing small holes or leaks in the duct system prevents the heated/cooled air from escaping and greatly reduces the workload of the system. Professional cleaning of the ducts removes the accumulation of debris, such as dust, pollen, bugs, webs, mold and even dead rodents. Because of maximum airflow, the furnace and air conditioner run for shorter cycles, experience less wear and tear and operate at peak efficiency.