As you prepare to conquer spring cleaning, be on the lookout for more than just clutter and dust.
It's a great time to spot ways to save energy in your home--and, as a result, cut those utility bills.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
* Do a free online home energy audit. The audit, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, shows you where your energy dollars are going and offers ways to save energy and money.
* Before adding new blooms to your yard, find out how the right plants--and placement of them--can reduce your cooling costs this summer. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a guide to energy-efficient landscaping. On average, the effort provides enough energy savings to return an initial investment in less than eight years.
* Use Alliant Energy's calculators to find out how much you could save by upgrading to high-efficiency equipment in your home.
Want to start lowering your bills immediately? Alliant Energy recommends taking these easy measures:
* Weatherize doors and windows. A few inexpensive tubes of caulk and rolls of weather-stripping can help reduce cooling bills by 10 percent.
* Install a water-saving showerhead. A family of four can cut their water-heating costs by $250 a year by making the switch.
* Give your appliances a vacation, too. Before you leave on a trip, turn off and unplug everything you can, lower your thermostat to 55 degrees and set your water heater to the lowest setting.
By Emily Kittle