How to Cut Your Energy Consumption and Your Bills

These small changes benefit the environment and your budget.

Earth Day - April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, when we?re encouraged to do what we can to take care of our planet. Luckily, it?s easy to make small changes in your home that not only benefit the environment, but your budget, too. By Kenrya Rankin Naasel  (Photo: Tetra Images/Corbis)

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Earth Day - April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, when we?re encouraged to do what we can to take care of our planet. Luckily, it?s easy to make small changes in your home that not only benefit the environment, but your budget, too. By Kenrya Rankin Naasel (Photo: Tetra Images/Corbis)

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Earth Day

Consider a Home Audit - Have a pro check your home for energy wasters, from leaky windows to poorly insulated attics. Many utility companies and cities offer free or low-cost audits. Or do it yourself with this guide form Energy.gov.   (Photo: Adrian Weinbrecht/cultura/Corbis)

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Consider a Home Audit

Unplug Chargers - And everything else you?re not currently using. If a device is plugged in, it is drawing power ? even when it's off. In fact, unused items can account for up to 10 percent of your electricity usage each month. So when you take your phone off the charger in the morning, take one second to remove it from the socket. Do the same with your toaster, iron, flatirons and anything else that doesn't need to run constantly.   (Photo: 68/Daniel Allan/Ocean/Corbis)

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Unplug Chargers

Use Power Strips - They make it easy to quickly shut down things that you?re not using, especially overnight. These are key for things that draw lots of power on standby, like televisions and video game consoles. Plus, a strip with a surge protector will protect your stuff from energy surges.   (Photo: Chat Roberts/Corbis)

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Use Power Strips

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Run Your Fan in the Correct Direction - Use your ceiling fans to improve airflow in your home and lower energy bills. When it?s hot out, the fan?s blades should rotate counter-clockwise to draw warm air up. When it?s cold, run it clockwise on the lowest setting to trap the heat where you can feel it and prevent it from rising into your attic. Just look for a switch on the fan.   (Photo: ML Harris/Corbis)

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Run Your Fan in the Correct Direction

Try a Programmable Thermostat - Whether you get one from your electric company or alarm system provider or buy your own, a programmable thermostat lets you avoid overheating or cooling your home and can lower your bill by 20 percent. Set it to turn off when you?re out, or for the heat to drop when you sleep. The high-tech ones ? like the Nest ($249) ? let you adjust the temp from your phone and will learn your patterns to work automatically.   (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images)

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Try a Programmable Thermostat

Lower Your Water Heater Thermostat - Set it to 120F. That?s the sweet spot between paying to overheat your water and paying to draw extra energy to use the washing machine or dishwasher. Plus, it?s the recommended safe temp for households with small children.   (Photo: Tim Pannell/Corbis)

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Lower Your Water Heater Thermostat

Upgrade to LEDs - You?ve probably already replaced some of your light bulbs with CFLs. If you haven?t, go ahead and skip straight to LEDs. While a bit more expensive, they last 25 times longer than old school bulbs and use even less energy than CLFs (and just 20 percent of what incandescent bulbs use).   (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Upgrade to LEDs

Skip the Drying Cycle in the Dishwasher - Letting your dishes air dry rather than using the heat setting cuts the energy required per load by up to 20 percent. Try running loads before bedtime, then open the door and let them dry overnight.   (Photo: Creativ Studio Heinemann/Westend61/Corbis)

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Skip the Drying Cycle in the Dishwasher