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Five Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill

In today's economy, cutting home costs is especially important. One of the biggest monthly bills is the utility bill. A small investment, a little time, and an ongoing awareness of power usage will go a long way toward cutting those energy bills and your carbon footprint as well. How many items in your home use electricity? Lighting, HVAC system, TV set, radio, coffeemaker, computer, stove, refrigerator, freezer, garage door opener . . . the list goes on. Here are five ideas for reducing your electricity use.

1. Replace your old light bulbs. The incandescent bulb has been around for over a century, but is very inefficient. It produces more heat than light, and that takes energy. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use 75 percent less energy to provide the same amount of light as an incandescent. They are more expensive to buy than incandescent bulbs, but they last 10 times as long, and will pay for themselves in 6 months in energy savings alone. They are now being manufactured in specialty shapes for recessed lighting and other applications. Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are even more efficient, but unfortunately are currently very expensive. But with a 25 year projected life, they might be a good choice for those light fixtures that are hard to get to. Replacing your light bulbs is a simple task that you can perform yourself in a very short time.

2. Turn appliances off when not in use. It's amazing how many things in the home are left on through simple lack of awareness. Not only lights, but computers, coffeemakers, TVs, radios, etc. By turning these off when you are not using them, you can save a lot of energy.

3. Change furnace filters regularly. The blower on your HVAC system, whether heating or cooling, has to work harder to blow air through a clogged or dirty filter. By changing your filters regularly, you will reduce this energy use. Also, remember to clean the grate at the bottom of the refrigerator periodically as well. Dust buildup there causes the refrigeration unit to work harder.

4. Install a programmable thermostat, and set the temperature a few degrees cooler when the house is unoccupied or when you are in bed. In the summer, set the A/C a few degrees warmer during those periods. Keep drapes and curtains closed as well.

5. Look for Energy Star rated products. Large appliances (refrigerators, freezers, ovens), construction materials (doors & windows, insulation, roofing), electronic items (TV sets, computers, cordless phones), and heating/cooling devices (HVAC systems, fans, portable heaters) all have Energy Star certified manufacturers and models.

Follow these simple suggestions, and you will have a greener home and greener bank account.