With spring here and summer approaching, it is prime time for homeowners to consider ways to keep their utility costs down in order to benefit both their wallets and the environment.

Local Real Estate Agent Charla Bibby noted that for residents of North Texas — where spring and summer temperatures are known to steadily soar above 100 degrees — utility bills can easily eat up a large portion of a family’s budget, taking away from both pleasurable and practical summer activities.

Real Estate Agent Greg Weast, who works out of the Century 21 Dean Gilbert Realtors in Sherman, also weighed in with his expertise on the matter. These two agents provided five energy-saving tips that homeowners should follow in order to prevent utility bills from escalating in warmer months.

1. Insulate the attic

“Insulating your attic not only keeps the cold air out in the winter, but keeps the cold air inside,” Bibby said, noting that this practice can cut utility bills down by a whopping 20 percent. She added that even the most inexperienced homeowners can add fiberglass insulation to their walls in order to lower energy costs.

“Where you get the most bang for your buck with insulation is with attic insulation,” Weast said.

He advised that the addition of 6-8 inches of fiberglass, which is not too expensive of an item, is especially useful in older homes, since inadequate insulation causes heat to rise.

2. Program thermostats

Programmable thermostats benefit the homeowner by allowing for automatic regulations of more sustainable temperatures.

“This alone can knock about 10 percent off your utility bills,” Bibby said.

Weast said that higher energy bills can be avoided by raising the thermostat 3 to 4 degrees above what is normally desired if no one will be in the house for the day. Regulated thermostats can then be set to drop back down to a comfortable temperature an hour before the homeowner returns. This practice can tremendously impact energy bills by preventing the air conditioning unit from having to work to cool down an unoccupied house.

“You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t touch their thermostats,” Weast said. “… It’s going to be running nonstop throughout the day.”

3. Weather stripping

This practice is recommended by Bibby in order to both prevent cold air from escaping from homes in warmer months and to guard homes against rain leaking in during the spring months that North Texas is already beginning to experience.

Weast suggested checking the weather stripping on doors for signs of wear or gaps. Homeowners can close the door and turn off the light to look for light that may be shining through, indicating inadequate strips. Weast advised checking anywhere where heat or cooling can escape, especially on doors, and to replace any worn or damaged stripping.

Bibby also recommended insulating light switches, emphasizing the ease at which homeowners can insulate their homes on their own.

“Any big box DIY store can help you find the special insulated outlet switches and plate seals which you can swap out with the existing ones in a few minutes,” Bibby said. She stated that it is especially important to devote attention to exterior walls.

4. Insulate windows

Weast said that for houses with blinds, shades, shutters, or drapery, it is very important to make sure they are drawn or closed during the day. He noted that this simple tip has personally saved him a lot of money on his energy bills.

Weast added that older windows that no longer reflect heat back out could be considered for replacement, but he cautioned this is a major expense. Insulating windows from the sun during the day with the usage of drapery is an easier way to save money without having to spend a lot.

5. Clean filters

Bibby’s final piece of advice is a simple and easy tip that should be regularly followed: clean or replace filters.

“Air conditioning is the biggest drain on you utility usage through summer. As a final tip, always remember to clean out the filters in your AC unit,” Bibby said.