Keep Up With Maintenance

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans waste $200 to $400 a year on energy costs because of things like drafts, air leaks around openings and outdated cooling systems.

While most us can’t afford a complete HVAC overhaul, we can save money by doing low-cost maintenance: Changing air filters monthly, and sealing cooling ducts can reduce energy use by as much as 20%.

Close Up
The sun’s blazing rays will heat rooms quickly, so it’s important to close blinds and shades during the day. When you have the AC on, you should also close vents and doors to rooms you don’t use often. This helps the air conditioner cool only the areas needed, so less energy is wasted.

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Clean Up in Cold Water
Though some clothes suggest warm or hot water for washing, you can reduce your monthly heating bill by turning all cycles to cold. Even taking cold showers will help lower your energy use and provide a nice relief from the hot weather.

Hang Dry
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the savings that come with hang drying your clothes. Hang drying also helps your clothes last longer because the dryer breaks down cloth fibers over time. When you do use your dryer, dry one load after the other to reduce warm-up and dry times. Don’t forget to clean lint screens to ensure it runs efficiently.

Swap Out Light Bulbs
Turning off lights as you leave a room isn’t the only way to reduce energy use. Simply swapping out incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) cuts energy use throughout your home. CFLs use about 75% less energy than incandescent ones and last six to 15 times as long, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Plug Into Power Strips
All the gadgets you have plugged in throughout your home — like computers, TVs and even mobile chargers —continue to use energy even when they’re turned off. Commonly referred to as “energy vampires,” the best defense against wasted electricity use from these devices is to use a power strip. This is because you can turn the power strip off and completely cut off energy consumption.

Turn Down the Water Heater
Some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, but 120ºF is fine for most households. According to, consumers are wasting approximately $400 per household per year with the higher temperature. To cut costs even more, switch your hot water heater to the lowest setting or completely off if you’re going away for a few days.

Power Down Cable Boxes
A 2011 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that set-top cable boxes consume $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States. What’s more, 66% of that power is wasted when no one is watching TV and shows are not being recorded. Save money by powering down your cable box when not in use.

For those who don’t want to wait for that reboot delay, simply set an inexpensive lamp timer that switches the power to the cable box off when you leave for work in the morning and powers it back up before you arrive home in the evening.

Get With the Program
Install a programmable thermostat to control temperatures when you’re not at home. Experts estimate that a programmable thermostat saves consumers an average of $180 a year on electricity costs.

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