(ARA) - Let's face it, the earth needs our help and families everywhere are looking for ways to help out. Recycling, driving less and bringing reusable bags to the grocery stores are great ways to reduce your family's carbon footprint, but did you know there are things you can do to reduce the impact your home has on the environment, not to mention your wallet?

Hannah Keeley, lifestyle expert and host of the PBS program "Hannah, Help Me!" offers energy efficiency tips that can yield big returns for your home, your budget and the earth.

Fill in the cracks.
Never underestimate the power of weatherproofing your home. Check all windows and doors for drafty areas. Caulking holes and cracks will keep your home from bleeding heat, not to mention prevent your hard-earned dollars and cents from leaking out of the house.

Or consider replacing your existing doors with more energy-efficient fiberglass options. Therma-Tru fiberglass doors offer five times the insulation value of wood, which will do a world of good in creating a more energy-efficient home.

Use less.
A seemingly obvious solution is to simply use less energy. Raising your thermostat a few degrees during the spring and summer months translates into big savings in both energy usage and utility bills. A programmable thermostat will automatically adjust your thermostat throughout the day, helping to control the temperature of your home even if you're miles away.

Lighting accounts for almost 20 percent of the average homeowner's monthly electric bill, but many people overlook this key opportunity to save energy and money. To reduce lighting bills, homeowners can choose lighting controls from Lutron Electronics. An incandescent bulb dimmed by 25 percent will use 25 percent less electricity and last four times longer than a bulb that has not been dimmed. Even better, dimmers allow homeowners to set the right light level for the mood and activity in a room.

Consider a dual-fuel system.
Installing a part-electric, part-gas hybrid heating and cooling system provides more control over your home's energy usage by automatically sensing and operating in the most economical mode. For example, as outdoor temperature increases throughout the day, the Heritage Hybrid (TM) comfort system from American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning will use an electric heat pump to efficiently cool your indoor air. When the weather turns cooler and heating with natural gas becomes more efficient, the furnace takes over. With a hybrid comfort system, you can save some serious cash -- even when confronted with unpredictable utility costs.

Make smarter choices.
Choosing the right home appliances is vital as well. No matter which room of the house we're talking about -- the kitchen, laundry room or otherwise -- an outdated or inefficient unit can drain your bank account and increase carbon emissions. To combat this, look for Energy Star certified appliances that way you know you're getting the most energy efficient products available.

Thankfully, increasing your home's energy efficiency doesn't have to be hard work or a strain on your pocketbook. By making a few smart choices, you can sit back and rest, in comfort, knowing you are doing your part to help reduce your home's carbon footprint.

Courtesy of ARAcontent