smart spending

5 ways to slash home energy bills

Unplug appliances that you don't regularly use
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Unplugging small electronics like hair dryers and toaster ovens won't save much energy, Harley says. Meanwhile, certain energy-hogging appliances -- such as refrigerators -- need to remain plugged in at all times.

However, other devices should be unplugged when not in use. Many devices use small amounts of energy even when turned off. These include TVs, DVD players, stereo equipment, computers, printers and fax machines.

You'll save energy by plugging devices into a power strip and then turning the strip off when you aren't using the devices, Harley says. Putting a computer into "sleep" or "hibernation" mode when it's not in use also trims electricity costs.

You can net big savings by flipping the switch on one item in particular, Harley says.

"If you leave your furnace fan set to 'on' rather than to 'auto,' switching it back to 'auto' can save you up to $50 a month for any months in which you usually leave it 'on,'" he says.

SAVINGS: "The savings may vary a lot depending on what items you have and how diligent you are, but it's probably in the range of $20 to $100 a year for most families," Harley says.




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