The energy-efficient home is moving from the horizons of futuristic planners to the agenda of current homeowners.

It's not so much a matter of newer technologies – though alternate energy sources like solar and geothermal are making considerable inroads in the modern home. It's more a matter of improvements on very familiar furnishings and appliances. Put simply, these options save by losing less.

It may be well worth it to give your home an efficiency upgrade. First, you'll want to figure out what needs fixing. To identify problem areas, contact a qualified professional and get an energy audit of your home. Some upgrades are simple and less expensive. For example, one common problem is insulation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that proper ceiling insulation alone can reduce your heating bill by as much as 20 percent. Other energy draining can be solved by replacing old fixtures with more modern and efficient models. Windows, doors and skylights equipped with sealed double or triple panes also reduce heating and cooling costs, and are features for which utility companies often offer rebates.

The EPA notes that air leakage from gaps in your home's structure – holes for plumbing and wiring, for instance – accounts for 25 to 40 percent of the energy a common home uses for heating and cooling. Similar troubles come from inadequately sealed duct joints and otherwise inefficient, older heating and cooling systems. All can be repaired or replaced.

Even conventional systems such as ventilation can release enough heat from your home to cost a fortune in unnecessary bills. Upgrading these systems can pay for itself – and later pay off as an attractive resale value when possible buyers of your home want to benefit from this form of savings.

And when you're ready to go from finding the problem to fixing it, the government doesn't just supply the bad news – it provides some solutions, as well. The EPA's "Energy Star" rating has appeared on numerous products, identifying efficient appliances and other home furnishings that enable vast savings. Energy Star central air conditioners can save 20 percent on cooling bills.

Studies have shown the resale advantages of homes with lower energy costs. Look for such solutions, and buyers will be more likely to look into your home. Your utility bills, Energy Star fact sheets and other documentation can be attractive proof to present to prospective buyers.

In the short term, you can save on some of these improvements even as they enhance your home's value. In addition to offering expert advice and home-selling solutions, real estate brands such as ERA Real Estate, feature the Select ServicesSM network of national and local vendors with leading household products, often at a discount.

Consult a local ERA Real Estate professional on how to navigate the options and opportunities available for the energy-conscious homeowner. Your investment in the future can have many returns right in the present.