Great deals are available on a new website called Diggerslist.com, where people sell left over building materials. Check to see if your city has any listings.
Also, go to the Web site of your local utility to see what rebates they might offer.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program gives money to states to help low-income families weatherize their homes.
Click HERE to find out about weatherization programs in your state.
A good place to learn about air leak sealing and insulation is www.energysavers.gov. To see more about the tax credits and see what rebates or aid might be available in your state, Click HERE to go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
Traditional fireplaces are notoriously inefficient, but if you want to keep your old fireplace, there is a better way to do it.
Open fireplaces seem romantic and cozy but are typically energy guzzlers, pulling heat out of the house and up the chimney. Alternatives such as free-standing wood and pellet stoves and fireplace inserts with insulated doors, or even newer open fireplaces, can raise efficiency significantly and there are all sorts of new modern designs alternatives for homeowners. On average, a new hearth appliance can save 20 to 40 percent on heating bills, according to the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association.
Make sure you get your chimney cleaned and that it is properly lined so you don't get a chimney fire. If you aren't using your fireplace, keep the damper closed and stick some insulation, such as Roxul stone wool -- which is fire-resistant - up inside around the damper to prevent drafts. Just remember to take it out before you light a fire!
One alternative to burning wood in your old fireplace is MojoBricks. These are new compressed wood bricks that burn super-hot and are less of a mess. It's good for people who use their fireplaces.
Bounds said people can upgrade existing fireplaces with new wood/pellet/gas "inserts," which essentially are big stoves that can slip into the old fireplace opening and make the hearth really efficient. You can get the $1,500 tax credit for this.
If you want to replace your fireplace, it's going to cost you.
Prices differ by region, but on average an installed free-standing wood or pellet (compressed sawdust) stove costs between $3,000 and $4,200, according to the hearth association. But you can get help to pay for nearly one-third of that bill with a federal energy efficiency tax credit of 30 percent up to $1,500 on certain efficient wood and pellet stoves through the end of this year. Check with the retailer and ask for the manufacturer's certification statement to ensure that the one you've picked out qualifies.
Bounds said she upgraded two years ago to a high-efficiency wood stove in her basement, and cut my heating bills by roughly one-third. Several websites including the EIA's and Pellet Fuels Institute offer fuel-comparison calculators.
There is another option. The EcoSmart fireplace that burns bioethanol fuel. It helps you zone your heat.
EcoSMart fireplaces are unique because they use clean-burning bioethanol fuel. That means no ash, no soot, no smoke, no chimney, so all the heat made by the fire stays in the room. You can buy standalone units or you can buy insert units which can sit right in an old fireplace.
And speaking of zoning?