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If you tend to cringe when you open your utility bill each month, you probably need to be more proactive about how you use energy at home. Small, simple changes in every day habits can mean big savings, especially if you are consistent. Try some of these tips and you may be able to look at your next utility bill with your eyes wide open.
Lower the Lights
Turning off the lights when you leave a room and only using the light you absolutely need seems like common sense but many people leave lights blazing throughout their houses as if every night was a party. Consider installing motion detectors that will activate lights when someone is present and turn them off if no one is in the room. These can be particularly useful in children's rooms. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs to f lower your electric bill even further.
Wash and Dry
Always wait to run a load of laundry or dishes when the machine is full. Wash everything in cold water as much as possible since most of the electricity used to wash clothes is used in heating the water. If possible, dry a few loads a week on a line outside or in your garage. You will be amazed at how much energy a dryer uses. If your appliances do not have an energy efficient or low water cycle, you may want to research newer machines. Some cities offer rebates to consumers who buy energy efficient appliances.
Seal It Up
Check your house for drafts. Feel around windows, doors and heating ducts for air coming in from outdoors. Leaks mean your air-conditioning and heating will escape making your system work all the harder to cool or heat your home. If you apply weather-stripping and caulk around openings to make your house airtight, you can dramatically increase the energy efficiency of your home.
Hot and Cold
Invest in a thermostat that can be programmed to turn off and on automatically. If you work outside the home, you don't need heat or air-conditioning to run while you are gone. Thermostats with clocks in them can be set so that while you are away or while you are asleep, the temperatures can be adjusted. A programmable thermostat guarantees that you can be welcomed home into a comfortable climate. Make sure your furnace and air conditioner filters are clean to ensure greatest efficiency.
Use your curtains or awnings to keep out the heat in the summer and let in the warmth of the sunshine in the winter. Putting simple curtains to work can make a huge difference in your home's temperature, making it less necessary to crank the heat or air conditioning. If your water heater is an older unit, you may be able to increase its efficiency and insulate it by covering it with a blanket.
Sometimes turning off an appliance is not enough. Even when your computer is off, it still draws electricity. Appliances need to be unplugged to stop the flow of energy. Think about all the products that are plugged into the wall in your home when you aren't using them-fans, lamps, phones, microwaves and the coffee machine. Try unplugging items that don't need to charge and you may see a shift in your next bill. The next time you are finished with your coffee, pull the plug and save.