If you’re like most homeowners, sale the monthly electric bill rarely brings good news. When every penny counts, it can be discouraging s so many of them go toward keeping your HVAC system, appliances, and other essential items running.

Although you can’t eliminate the sources of your utility costs – laundry, lighting, and heating or cooling your home, to name just a few – there are some surprisingly easy ways to make things run more efficiently, thus slashing your monthly bill. Read on for a few tips from energy-efficiency experts.

1. Turn off the lights. It seems obvious, but you’ll probably be surprised if you pay attention to how many lights are kept on in empty rooms. A simple flip of the switch can save wattage – and dollars. On a related note, for the lights you are using, consider switching for lower-wattage bulbs or, better yet, dimmers. Motion sensors are another way to provide on-demand lighting without manually turning it on and off.

2. Give the fridge some TLC. A refrigerator is responsible for a large portion of your home’s energy consumption. Always close the door right away, and make sure the temperature setting matches the manufacturer’s recommendation. If you don’t have a frost-free model, defrost as needed. Periodically dust the coils to prevent build-up.

3. Switch to an electric thermostat. An electric thermostat (commonly referred to as a “smart thermostat”), can provide significant energy and cost savings. This type of thermostat can be programmed to automatically change the temperature of the house at night or while no-one is home.

4. Consolidate. Wait to run the washer until you have a full load of clothes, and air-dry clothes if possible. The same goes for the dishwasher. Turn off all appliances when not in use.

5. Upgrade your bulbs. Trade the standard incandescents for compact fluorescent bulbs, which use much less energy to provide the same illumination. Although you’ll pay more up-front, they’ll last considerably longer and reduce your energy bill.

While you can’t prevent a monthly utility bill, you can exercise some control over how much of your hard-earned money it absorbs. By consistently incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you’ll begin to notice a reduction in your energy consumption—which will free up more money for saving or enjoying.

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