MORE BANG FOR YOU BUCK: Save on your energy bill

Your home could be wasting hundreds of dollars worth of energy every year, but there are simple, inexpensive ways you can fix the problems yourself. A $20 investment could save you $350 in one year.

We're starting with the hot water tank. Thermal images show the heat that's emitted. The more that escapes, the harder the tank has to work - jacking up your power bill.

A six-foot piece of pipe insulation, wrapped snuggly around the pipes, will keep that energy in.

Measure the pipe's circumference before you buy - I purchased the wrong size and had to exchange it. Insulating the tank will save an estimated $100 a year.

Next up, check out the gaping hole where the plumbing meets the house. This allows conditioned air to flow into the crawlspace and crawlspace air to seep into my house.

Insulating foam sealant can fill those holes so that no air escapes. We had to seal two bathroom pipes and the sink in the kitchen.

Every place the ductwork meets the house needs to be sealed with this foam as well. That includes the inside of a closet, as well as under the house. When every hole is sealed, my estimated annual savings will be $128.

But there's more duct sealing to be done. Years ago, I wrapped the joints of the ductwork with tape. It helped, but it's not enough. Mastic will seal gaps in the joints and your system won't have to activate so often. Clean the surface and apply liberally with a brush or cloth.

An audit showed interior duct leakage as well. We brushed the mastic on every joint inside the duct. All of this sealing will take approximately $124 off my power bill this year.

Other improvements that save more than they cost include a programmable thermostat and an electric timer for the hot water tank.

The money spent on these products will be recouped in less than two years.