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Today's post is a guest post from Jessica @ 43a Internet Marketing.
Getting by in today's economy is tough, especially considering that millions of Americans have been laid off and are faced with running a household on one, and in some cases, no income. This has forced many Americans to go back to school or seek out online universities just to stay competitive. However, an education is expensive and families are having to return to older ways of getting by such as urban gardening, as a effective way to reduce their monthly bills and bring in extra savings into the home. There are tons of ways that you can do this and “going green” has become a new buzzword that's been thrown around quite a bit lately. It doesn't matter if you view this as a political or environmentally conscious one, there are tons a cost benefits to make a few simple green improvements around the house. These improvements will go a long way towards helping you balance your budget.

Step One: Heating And Cooling
Heating and cooling a home is perhaps the biggest cost, besides a mortgage, that's passed along to a homeowner. Every year the price of energy goes up while wages stay the same. Stagnation in the market, however, doesn't have to translate into monetary loss. Your first step should be to replace outdated heating and cooling systems. Doing this altogether might prove too costly, so you may have to save prior to making these updates. If you're wondering if you should do this, look at the age of your current unit. If your unit is twenty years old or even close to that, then the answer is yes. You're losing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year to an outdated and inefficient system.
Step Two: New Windows
The exterior of your home is like the clothing of your home as a furnace is like the lungs. If you're skeptical about replacing your windows or resealing them, just hold a match or lighter near a window during the winter time and see if the flame flickers or blows out. If the flame dances quite a bit or blows out, your windows are not effectively keeping the outside air from coming in which is most likely causing your furnace and air conditioner to work in overtime.
Step Three: Improve Your Doors
You need to go around to your doors, and this goes for garage doors too, and see if there are any cracks or broken seams anywhere. These seemingly small, cracks can suck energy right out of your home and result in huge costs. Don't forget that we also lose a lot of heat from the base of a door where it meets the floor. You can buy pads that fit snugly under the door that are designed to keep the elements out and heating/cooling in as well as weatherstripping which can also close up open spaces between a door and its frame.
To further increase the efficiency of your home, you should look into other home improvement projects such as replacing your water heater, getting a digital/programmable thermostat, and purchasing energy star products. Some of these projects are more costly than others, but the cost is quite nominal when you consider how much you will save after the updates are made. It's through taking actions like the projects listed above that can result in savings and allow families living on a fixed income to invest in clothes for their kids, a retirement savings account, and even online MBA degree programs.