Search the site:
Illinois Country Living

Doug Rye, licensed architect and the popular host of the "Home Remedies" radio show

Energy Solutions

Money that grows in the attic
A tax return that just keeps on giving

This is perhaps the most important column that I have ever written. It’s written for every one of you and I hope it isn’t too late.

We’re through with April and tax season. Now we are on to May and the start of warmer weather, and yes, air-conditioning season and higher electric bills. Some of you may have received your tax refund from the United States government, while others are waiting for it to arrive. Our president and Congress probably are hoping that each family will spend the money to help strengthen the economy. Some “experts” on television want you to take the money and pay off existing debts. Others say save the money. I AM SAYING, DO ALL OF THIS!

I want you to totally open your mind for a few minutes. I am going to show you how to make the tax refund check worth more than the dollar amount printed on it. I am going to show you how it can actually make you money every month for the rest of your life. And this investment will pay off monthly and a lot better than the stock market. Oh, and by the way, there’s no capital gains tax to pay on the returns you’ll see on this investment.

Let’s say you get between $150 and $1,200 for your tax refund. Heck, let’s keep it simple and say it’s somewhere in the middle, say $600. Actually, the amount is not as important as what you do with it. First of all, we are going to spend the $600 so that the president and Congress will be happy because we will be helping to stimulate the economy.

Now, how will we spend it? I bet you’ve guessed that already. Yes, we will use the money to make energy improvements on your house. Let’s suppose we spend $30 for 10 tubes of caulk, $30 for 10 compact fluorescent lights and $25 for gaskets for electrical outlets. That adds up to about $85.

Well, let’s spend about $15 for an insulating blanket for the water heater. Now we’ve spent about $100.

Next, let’s spend about $450 for additional attic insulation. With $450, we can buy about 45 bags of cellulose insulation at the local home improvement store.

Get a helper and install these items that you have purchased. And while you’re up in the attic, go ahead and check your ductwork for leakage. You’ll be amazed at what these improvements can do to lower your monthly utility bill.

Consider this. If you save $30 a month on your utility bill, your payback will be in 15 months. If you save $50 a month, your payback will be in nine months.

Now, use some discipline and take the $30 to $50 a month in savings and make additional energy efficiency improvements to your home, pay off existing debt, save it or spend it.

Regardless of what you choose to do, you’ll have about $30 to $50 or more per month forever because you chose to spend your tax refund wisely. Remember, if you don’t do this, your money will be gone and you won’t have the savings on your energy bills.

I hope I haven’t waited too late to tell you this. See you next month.

P.S. Oh, I forgot to mention that you still have $50 left. Pat yourself on your back, go to dinner and take your helper.

More Information:

Doug Rye, the “Doctor of Energy Efficiency-the King of Caulk and Talk” can be heard on several different Illinois radio stations. Or you can go to his Web site at, e-mail him at, or call 888-Doug-Rye or 501-653-7931. You can also sign up for a free newsletter and order his “how to” videotapes.


© 2016 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

Designed and Maintained by Cooperative Design and Print.

Current Issue Archive About Us Advertisers Contact Us FAQ