There are many easy energy-saving tips you can do around the house that will help you save money on your utility bills.

This weekend -- at 2 a.m. Sunday, to be precise -- we roll back the clocks one hour, returning to Standard Time. In addition to celebrating the extra hour of sleep we get, this is also a good time to check the batteries in our smoke detectors, flip our mattresses, and get mentally prepared for it to be dark out when we leave work for the day.

This weekend is also a good time to try out these five energy-saving tips that will help save you money on your utility bills:

1) Solar Heating is Like Free Money

If you have southern exposures in your home, open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day. That allows sunlight to heat your home, reducing the effort your furnace has to make (even if you turn down the thermostat—see tip #3). Just be sure to close the curtains at night, so you reduce the chilling effect from cold windows.

2) Cover Drafty Windows

Get a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet or film from a do-it-yourself store. Tape it over the inside frame of your windows, and make sure it’s sealed all the way around. If you can feel any air blowing in, tape up that spot. By keeping cold air from blowing in, you’ll prevent your heater from working overtime.

3) Adjust the Temperature

You probably have heard this one before, but it bears repeating. When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable, and then turn it down lower when you go to sleep or leave for the day. You can save up to 10% on your heating bills. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can set it to do all the work for you.

4) Find and Seal Leaks

Your home probably has more holes in it than you think it does. Plumbing pipes, gaps around chimneys or vents, and even recessed lights in the ceiling often have spaces that allow air into the house from outside. Seal these up and you’ll reap the dividends. While you’re at it, you can (and should) also wrap insulation around any exposed water pipes outside; it will help keep them from freezing up.

5) Lower Your Water Heating Costs

Did you know that water heating accounts for almost one-fifth of the energy used in your home? Between cleaning dishes, washing clothes, and taking showers, we use a lot more energy than we might realize. Here’s how to save: Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). It will get you, your clothes, and your dishes just as clean, but cost you less.

Bonus Tip: Lower Your Holiday Lighting Costs

Depending on how many lights you string for the holidays, your energy bill can be an unwelcome discovery in your stocking. Use light-emitting diode (LED) holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.

You can find all about how to do these tips, plus a lot more, on our Energy Saver website. And who knows what you can do with the money you’ll save? It might make the holidays even happier!

Drew Bittner
Drew Bittner is a writer/editor for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy within the U.S. Department of Energy.
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