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Ways to Save Energy Costs

Sharon Epperson
Thursday, 3 Jul 2008 | 7:19 AM ET

Even if you don't see a super-spike in electricity prices in your town or neighborhood this summer, Edison Electric Institute - the largest trade association for the nation's utilities - says the cost for delivering and making electricity is going to keep going up. The average household will spend $2,350 this year on home energy costs, according to newly updated figures from the Alliance To Save Energy, and it will run families about $6,300 on average (when you factor in what they're paying for gasoline).

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So what should you do now to try to reduce your household energy costs which, again, average over $2,000 a year, and for many households are much higher? Unfortunately, there's no magic bullet. But you do have some control over your home energy costs and there are ways to save on your electricity bills this summer. You may even get money back from the state for doing things like buying more energy-efficient air conditioners or making some home improvements.

Heating and cooling make up nearly half of the average home energy bill, so that’s the best place to start when trying to reduce energy costs. Reduce the amount of time you use your air conditioner:

-Buy a programmable thermostat. Using it appropriately can save you up to $180 a year on your energy bill.

-Shade the exterior air conditioner condenser unit and plant trees strategically around your home to keep it cool. That can save you $100 to $200 a year.

-Improving the insulation in your home and sealing air leaks can cut 20% off your cooling costs.

-Using an attic fan can reduce air conditioning costs by another 10%.

-Installing new energy-efficient or storm windows is a big-ticket expense but can save you 30% on your annual energy bill over the years to come.

Even simple steps like using cold water for your laundry and replacing incandescent bulbs with the compact fluorescent bulbs around the home can save you over $100 a year.

For more tips, go to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR website (www.energystar.gov) or the Alliance to Save Energy (www.ase.org).

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