Buy Energy Star-certified products
You've probably heard of Energy Star, the partnership between the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy that identifies energy-efficient products, especially as it relates to energy-intensive items like water heaters and clothes dryers. But Energy Star labels won't just help you save money on big, expensive appliances, says Vargas.
"Lightbulbs, TVs, clothes washers, refrigerators, furnaces, fans -- all those -- can earn the Energy Star rating," says Vargas.
And while an Energy Star lightbulb won't yield as much savings as an Energy Star refrigerator, those savings do add up, she says.
What's more, many of the Energy Star-qualified products don't cost any more than conventional products, says Vargas. If they do, the EPA won't grant the Energy Star label unless its figures show you'll recoup that extra outlay within 5 years or less on electricity and water costs.