Here is an article written by Laura Firszt giving some great information on saving energy when household bills are so high.
An Easy Guide to Saving Energy in Your Home
Not sure where to start when it comes to environmentally friendly home improvements? The plethora of suggestions for greening your house and reducing your utility bills is definitely good news, but it tends to leave the average homeowner a tad confused about how or even whether to implement them all. Here’s a common sense guide to help you sort out the most worthwhile and doable energy-saving improvements.
It’s highly visible. Make a bold statement to get everyone in the family on board with your energy-saving project. A home energy monitor is perfect for this; just clip the inexpensive device onto your power cable and it will clearly display exactly how much power you’re using at a given moment.
It provides a great ROI. ”Invest pennies to save dollars” is a formula that makes sound financial sense. Caulk and weatherstripping are two very inexpensive materials that will go a long way toward greening your home. Avoid wasted energy; use these supplies to minimize leakage of heated (or in summer, cooled) air via cracks and gaps around doors, windows, faucets, and electrical switch plates.
It doesn’t seriously affect your comfort level. Install a programmable thermostat to decrease the heat whenever you are away for the day or asleep for the night. While you’re at it, make sure the temperature is set a degree or two lower than you’re used to even for those times you’ll be at home and active. Chances are that you’ll barely notice the difference.
It’s appropriately timed. If you have a major appliance such as a dishwasher that’s damaged beyond repair or approaching the end of its useful life — or if the environmental cost of running the item is greater than the price of a new one — take the opportunity to purchase an energy-efficient replacement.
It’s suitable for your area. For example, a heat pump is a wonderfully energy-efficient way to warm your home if you live in a part of the country with a relatively mild climate. In a wintry northern state like Minnesota, you’ll end up wanting to supplement with less-green heat sources like electricity or natural gas.
It really counts. Replace your old HVAC system with a new Energy Star efficient version to give you more energy savings for your initial investment than, say, changing your windowpanes. To be precise, an Energy Star-certified heating and cooling system will save you approximately 30 percent annually in fuel and maintenance costs.
It offers fringe benefits. Use up to 50 percent less energy with an Energy Star-certified washing machine than the average top-loader. Not only that, it cleans more effectively, removes stains better, is gentler on your clothing, and reduces drying time.
It saves energy year-round. Insulate your attic to keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer while expending less energy. This has the added advantage of extending your roof’s lifespan.
It’s safe. Insulate your water heater to keep your water supply hotter (unless you own a hyper-efficient newer model whose factory-installed insulation has an R-value of 16 or more). Be very careful about where you apply the insulation, though. Do not cover an electric water heater’s heating-element access panels or a gas unit’s controller, pressure and temperature relief valve, and anode, or the top of the unit — which exhausts so much heat that the insulation might be set on fire.
It’s beyond simple. Save on your electricity bill with easy-to-use power strips, since they take only 61 seconds of your time: one minute to plug in a number of common devices like your printer and one second to switch them all off when they’re not needed. This reduces power vampires, which draw a surprising amount of energy even when not in use. To make life even easier, install an advanced power strip, and you’ll no longer have to remember to switch off or unplug. The strip will do the “thinking” for you, by sensing when your tablet is fully charged or your toaster is no longer being used.