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Different generations of homeowners have different opinions on minimizing their ecological footprint. While Gen-Z is focused on limiting their work commute, baby boomers care more about the front door being airtight. All of this is laid out in a new survey by the National Association of Realtors, in which more than 5,000 recent home buyers ranked the environmentally friendly features they consider to be the most important. The one thing they all agreed was a top priority: heating and cooling costs. 

Of course, energy use is personal; your monthly statement depends on factors like your house’s size and the climate of your environment. But there are plenty of tweaks you can make to your space to achieve a net-zero household (aka the glorious moment your bill amounts to $0). Here are three changes we can all get behind.

Rethink the Insulation

Heating and cooling has everything to do with the bones of your home. If you want to cut down on your expenses, one serious update you can make is reassessing the insulation in your ceiling (it should be as close to the roofline as possible, according to Bruce Sullivan, a consultant for Zero Energy Project). He also suggests reglazing the doors with a tighter seal to prevent air leakage.

Invest in Blackout Shades

Looking to remain chill without air-conditioning this summer? There are plenty of odd tricks (like storing your sheets in the freezer and eating spicy food), but one that doesn’t require a ton of your time is adding blackout Roman shades or drapes to the windows. The fabric will stop the sun from overheating your space. Plus, if you hang them in the bedroom, you’ll sleep a little easier.

Get a High-Tech Thermostat

Since launching in 2011, Google Nest has saved users 41 billion kilowatt-hours of energy ($131 to $145 a year). The idea is that the tool knows when it’s super-hot or everyone is inside in the evening, and adjusts the temperature in advance. That way you’re not paying for peak rates. And since 77 percent of buyers want smart thermostats, it will likely raise the value of your home. Solar panels are far from the only upgrade you can make. 

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