How can I reduce my energy costs?Heating and cooling makes up a huge portion of your monthly utility bill. Buying HVAC equipment with high efficiency ratings, such as SEER for air conditioners and AFUE for furnaces, is a simple step that can go a long way in lowering energy output. Beyond these ratings, also consider: Routine maintenance – regularly having a professional tune-up your equipment will keep it running at its peak potential. Adding a zoning system – by focusing your heating and cooling on the rooms you use most frequently, you won’t have to pay to heat or cool areas of your home that aren’t used regularly. Installing a programmable thermostat – the Department of Energy estimates that a programmable thermostat can lower heating costs by up to 35 percent and cooling costs by up to 25 percent. Leave it up to your thermostat to turn down the heat when you’re gone and go back to your preferred temperature when you’re home.