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Assess Your Home-Energy Consumption
You use LED lightbulbs. You have Energy Star appliances. What else can be done to trim your electricity bill? Choose devices that mind your energy consumption for you! Considering the following five ways to start saving oil, gas, kilowatts -- and, of course, money.
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Optimize Your Heat and Central Air-Conditioning
Investing in a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature according to your daily schedule can translate into big savings since you won't be wasting money on climate control when you're not at home. "Heating and cooling usually make up about 50 percent of a home's energy costs, says Merrilee Harrigan, senior education adviser at Alliance to Save Energy, in Washington, D.C.
TRY: a smart thermostat, like Nest's innovative version, which tracks your daily routine and programs itself! Learning thermostat, $249, homedepot.com
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Fight "Vampire Power" Drain
A smart power strips senses when an electronic device or charger is plugged in but not actually in use, and stops generating current. This reduces the "vampire power" drain of electronics in standby mode, which costs the average American household an estimated $100 each year.
TRY: Ten-outlet home-office surge protector, by Philips, $50, amazon.com
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Control Electronics Remotely
A power switch that can be turned on or off with a smartphone means you no longer have to leave a window-unit air conditioner running all day to avoid returning to a sweltering home. Simply program it to run during certain periods of time.
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Automatically Turn Off Lights in Empty Rooms
"Lighting accounts for 12 percent of most home energy bills," says Harrigan. Switches that perceive when someone has entered or left a room -- and turn on and off accordingly -- can significantly whittle those costs.
TRY: Maestro CL single-pole/multilocation motion-sensor occupancy light switch and dimmer, in white, $54, amazon.com
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Track Your Energy Use
Curious as to which appliance requires the most electricity, or just how much vampire power your devices are sucking up? A watt meter will tell you exactly, so you can better understand your home energy consumption.
TRY: Kill-a-Watt electricity monitor, $20, homedepot.com