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Greening the home--from low effort to high tech

Making your home more energy efficient is not usually a single event but a journey which typically involves a combination of cheap and easy steps along with bigger investments.

A California start-up recently announced plans to manufacture "net zero-energy homes," a term that is starting to enter the national vocabulary. But what if you don't plan on buying a new home anytime soon?

It is true that it's far easier to make new construction green than to retrofit existing homes. At the same time, residential energy use is only expected to climb, as we fill our homes with more electronic gadgets and, most likely, as energy prices trend upward.

So how do you keep your energy bills under control and lighten the environmental footprint of your home?

For most of us, it will be a mix the low tech--insulating, air sealing, changing our habits--and high tech--solar panels, smart grid appliances, and LED lighting.

To run through some of your options, we offer this photo gallery with room-by-room advice and recommendations ranging from low effort to high effort. The best place to start is to schedule an energy audit, which will help you forge a plan.

For previous green home coverage, see: