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Cut Energy Costs

8 ways to reduce your energy consumption and save money

The average U.S. household spends over $1,600 on energy bills but a few small tweaks can help you save both energy and money.

Tip #1: Unplug appliances and gadgets when not in use

  • Many of the devices in your home continuously draw energy when plugged in, whether they’re in “sleep”, “power-saver” mode, or off entirely. Some of the most notorious of these energy vampires are:
  • Televisions (especially smart devices)
  • Computers
  • Refrigerators
  • Thermostats
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Small kitchen appliances like microwaves and coffee makers

According to a study by the National Resources Defense Council, this “passive power load” represents as much as a quarter of your electric bill. This energy drain on average costs households $100-200 a year says the Department of Energy (DOE). The best way to avoid this sneaky charge is to simply unplug devices when not in use.

Tip #2: Switch to ENERGY STAR® certified products

An ENERGY STAR® product is a special designation given by the Environmental Protection Agency that certifies a product meets specific energy efficiency standards. You can easily identify an ENERGY STAR-certified product by the bright yellow label on all sorts of appliances from air conditioners and AV receivers to windows and water heaters.

The typical household can save about $450 on energy bills by switching to energy-efficient appliances. But upgrading appliances can be expensive. Fortunately, Americans can receive up to $3,200 a year in federal tax credits and deductions from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 when making the swap.

Tip #3: Check that your home is properly insulated

A well-insulated home can cut heating and cooling needs by 30%. Attics are usually the largest source of heat gain so start the insulation process there; plug, caulk, weather-strip, or spray any holes that lead outdoors to make the area airtight.

Windows are another common energy leak in homes. Fix this by installing an extra pane of glass or heat-blocking film to reduce air infiltration and boost the insulation value of a window. A cheaper, more temporary option, is to put a covering over the windows. In the winter, it will help retain heat and in summer, dark colors will block the sun and naturally keep the home cooler.

If you have a fireplace, keep the damper on the fireplace closed when it isn’t in use.

Tip #4: Don’t set the thermostat too low (or too high)

Another way to reduce energy costs is to prevent cooling or heating systems from working too hard. Try to keep the temperature difference between the exterior and interior of your house as much as possible. When it’s hot outside, set your air conditioner at 74 degrees. When it’s cold, keep the furnace at 68 degrees. If your current system does not allow you to modify the temperature in the areas of the house you do not use, ask a qualified contractor about “zone” heating and cooling.

Additionally, clean air conditioning coils and air filters in cooling appliances regularly. Failing to do so negatively impacts an A/C’s ability to absorb heat, meaning it has to work harder to cool your home. Manufacturers recommend changing your furnace filter at least quarterly for maximum efficiency.

Tip #5: Check the ceiling fan’s rotation

When strategically installed, ceiling fans can make a warm room cooler in the summer and warmer in winter. Position blades at 12-degree angles for more efficiency. Set ceiling fans to spin counter-clockwise in the summer to pull hot air up and away from the living space; and clockwise in the winter to blow the hot air down. Kitchen and bathroom fans are excellent for reducing moisture but be sure to turn them off.

Tip #6: Be strategic about the exterior of your home

One surprising way to make your home more energy efficient is the color of your home’s exterior. Light-colored paints reflect heat while dark colors absorb it. This can be helpful to keep in mind if where you live is predominately cool or hot the majority of the year.

This principle also applies to the types of materials used on and around your home. Reflective materials like an asphalt-based coating that contains reflective glass fibers or aluminum particles will also bounce heat rays away from your home. Installing this under your roof can lower surface temperatures by as much as 100 degrees.

Purchase energy-saving products. Compact fluorescent bulbs cost more but can save money in the long run. They also last much longer. Replace 25 percent of the lights you use often with fluorescents and cut your lighting bill by 50 percent.

Tip #7: Make sure appliances are running optimally

Washer and Dryers

Washers and dryers are huge power hogs. One of the biggest ways to save on washer functions is by using cold water in a wash cycle. As much as 30% of your washing machine’s power comes from heating it (and water temperature doesn’t actually make much difference when laundering clothes).

When drying, make sure the load is full as smaller loads take longer to dry. Empty the lint filter after every use and check that the hose is lint-free for optimal performance. Doing so will not only save money but reduce the risk of fires. However, one of the best ways to save laundry-related energy costs is to forgo the dryer airdry your clothes via a clothesline (letting Mother Nature do the work for you).


Run the dishwasher for full loads only and right before bed. Open the door and let it air dry overnight.


A full refrigerator and freezer are more energy efficient than when they’re partially filled. To fill any empty gaps, put jugs of water in unused spaces. Check for leaks by closing the door on a piece of paper; if it pulls out easily, the seal is probably worn.

Water Heater

Unless your dishwasher requires a higher temperature, turning the water heater thermostat down to 120 degrees is suitable for most people and will save money. Another way to minimize the energy your water heater uses is to put an insulation blanket on your water heater.

If you use hot water at fairly regular times during the day, install a timer that will allow you to turn off the hot water when you aren’t likely to use it. Or, even more, efficient, go tankless. Tankless water heaters warm the water as needed rather than constantly maintaining hot water.

Tip #8: Conserve water

Water your lawn or outdoor plants in the early morning or late evening. Invest in a good quality, energy-saving low-flow showerhead. Be sure to turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shampooing your hair.

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Money Management

The average family spends up to $2,000 per year on energy bills according to This guide helps you find practical ways to cut costs without spending a lot of money. Learn how to heat and cool your home effectively, run all your electronics, and conserve water so you can save money.

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If the cost of your utility bill is sucking the life and energy out of your budget we may be able to help. Call Consolidated Credit at (844) 276-1544 and a certified credit counselor will help re-energize your pocketbook. Or, request a free Debt & Budget Analysis online.