NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A free home energy audit might be the perfect place to start saving money on your home heating bills.

Homeowner Stephanie Vonzerneck was paying through the nose to heat her home. One month of heat cost her as much $700 last winter.

“We were spending a lot of money on heat just to stay comfortable,” she told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock. “It was just impossible to keep up with.”

So she took advantage of the free home energy audit through NYSERDA, the New York State energy Research and Development Authority.

“This program offers free or reduced energy audits for roughly 97 percent of New York State homeowners,” said John Schott.

“It was very simple,” Vonzerneck said.

You select a pre-approved contractor. The audit takes only a few hours. In the end, you can save thousands.

After a consultation, the door of your home gets replaced with a red one which measures how many times the house heats per hour and gives a good idea of how inefficient your home actually is.

Next, the hunt is on for heat leaks.

“If you open this door, you can feel the cold air coming in here,” Mike Brown of Brighthome Energy Solutions told Vonzerneck while examining beneath her sink.

The whole house is checked out and a strategy for energy and dollar savings is decided on. The project will cost roughly $14,000 but she’ll get that money back in about five years.

The walls of Vonerneck’s house are being filled from the outside with recycled newspapers and cracks are being filled with foam.

“Hopefully this winter will be a lot warmer,” she said.

“Stephanie last year spent $3,500 to heat this home throughout the winter and this year she’ll probably spend $1,700 to $1,800,” said Brown.

Not only will she see huge monthly savings, but she’ll also get 10 percent of the project cost back from NYSERDA, which is $1,400 in her pocket.

Are you concerned about heating costs? Sound off in our comments section below…

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