TODAY   |  November 17, 2010

Put your home on an energy diet

Lou Manfredini, host of TV’s “House Smarts,” shows how simple and inexpensive home improvements can have a big impact on cutting your energy bill.

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JOE WITTE, announcer: GREEN YOUR ROUTINE TODAY is brought to you by...

MATT LAUER, co-host: This morning on GREEN YOUR ROUTINE TODAY , we are lowering your energy bills. In a moment we're going to show you some simple and easy ways to do just that. But first we want to check in with a couple of families we put on an energy diet 12 months ago. Last year we challenged two Baltimore families, Betsy Ringal and Kurt Kolodner ...

Ms. BETSY RINGAL: I think the last couple of winters when we opened up our energy bills, we got a wake-up call.

LAUER: ...and their neighbors, Joan and John Goldman to reduce their energy use .

Ms. JOAN GOLDMAN: Our summer bills are around $300 and our winter bills are around $600.

LAUER: How'd they do?

Mr. KURT KOLODNER: We switched electric providers and we saved about 10 percent at least just in that process.

LAUER: And while above average summer temperatures kept their energy consumption high, the Kolodners have embraced changes by compact fluorescent bulbs and aerated shower heads.

Mr. KOLODNER: We were very happy using the low-flow shower head. I would encourage others to try it.

LAUER: For the Goldmans , sealing up leaks helped.

Ms. GOLDMAN: I definitely noticed that there wasn't the wind blowing downstairs.

LAUER: The result? Their reduced energy use led to an annual savings of $312.

Ms. GOLDMAN: We've always been very conscious of how we spend energy, but we're even more mindful now.

LAUER: So how can you save some money at home? Lou Manfredini is our expert on this and he's the host of the syndicated show "House Smarts." Lou , good to see you.

Mr. LOU MANFREDINI: Nice to see you.

LAUER: Let's start right off the bat. Got to get rid of the drafts in the windows and the doors.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Yeah, windows and doors, areas of greatest loss. If you do kits like these window films it's very easy to do, you'll increase the energy efficiency of your drafty window by up to 70 percent.

LAUER: And it's less than $2 per window?

Mr. MANFREDINI: Yeah. You can guy kits for -- a set of four for 9.99, a set of six or nine for 15.99.

LAUER: All right, what about doors?

Mr. MANFREDINI: Doors. Weatherstripping is the key. This is an area right here that you need to put -- this draft comes through the doors. That's problematic. This is a self-stick adhesive that couldn't be any easier to put on. It comes in a roll. You're going to see at the store, closed cell, open cell. I don't care cell.

LAUER: Right.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Just buy it, stick it on and you're done.

LAUER: It's not energy efficient . You should have a house around the door, too.

Mr. MANFREDINI: It's -- but yeah, this is very drafty here.

LAUER: You lose a lot of energy that way right there.

Mr. MANFREDINI: This is problematic.

LAUER: Change your thermostat.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Twenty-five percent of US homes still don't have programmable digital thermostats. The benefit of these is they react to temperature differences by up to one degree. So if you set it to 72, when it gets to 71 it turns one. The furnace or the boiler doesn't have to work as hard to keep your home up to temperature. If you manipulate the temperature throughout the day when you're not at home, you can save up to 20 percent on your bill to heat and cool your home.

LAUER: Thirty seconds left. You are a big fan of the new LED lightbulbs. How much can you save? How much do they cost?

Mr. MANFREDINI: You're talking about a $16 bulb here. But look at the light, look at the temperature of the light. It's not like what people are used to seeing. It looks really nice, it will last forever. Literally 50,000 hours under normal use.

LAUER: So even though you're spending a lot of money to replace your current lightbulbs, this is going the save you a lot of money in the long run.

Mr. MANFREDINI: This is the future. Incandescents are gone, CFLs in 10 years will be a dinosaur as well. And there's no mercury, which people are concerned with safetywise with LED.

LAUER: Lou Manfredini , as always, thank you ,sir. We appreciate it. You did it in two minutes and 15 seconds. When we come back, a concert from Keith Urban in our studio. But first, this is TODAY on NBC .