Happy New Year! Resolutions to make your home more energy-efficient

Have you been wanting to make energy-efficient upgrades to your home, but just haven't had a chance to yet? Many homeowners find themselves in this position. There's a lot to do to maintain a property, and sometimes it's hard to get around to everything. But New Year's Eve is upon us, and this holiday is all about resolutions for the next 365 days. When you're putting together your list of goals for 2013, consider some of these simple changes you can implement to make your home more eco-friendly:

Install a programmable thermostat – According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the use of a programmable thermostat can cut your monthly heating and cooling bills by 5 to 20 percent. By setting the temperature to be just a little bit cooler or warmer when you're at work and programming it to return to comfortable levels before you get home, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

Upgrade to energy-efficient lights – Did you know that Energy Star qualified light bulbs use 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and can last up to six times longer? By spending a little bit extra on LED or CFL bulbs, you'll actually be saving money in the long run. So when your next bulb burns out, make a resolution to replace it with one that's energy-efficient.

Turn off your computer when you're not using it – The U.S. Department of Energy offers guidelines for how you can conserve energy by doing this. If you aren't going to use your computer for more than two hours, the website states, turn off both the CPU and monitor. Otherwise, turn off just the monitor if you aren't going to use it for more than 20 minutes.

To find other ways to upgrade to an energy-efficient home, consider hiring a home inspection contractor. They can perform an energy audit and help you determine other actions you can take to make your property more eco-friendly.