20 Ways to Cut Energy Bills

These simple steps can take a major bite out of your heating and power costs.
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In the Kitchen

What luck: Prices for electricity and home heating oil are expected to hit record highs -- just as the days are getting shorter and colder. And this is only the beginning: It's estimated that the cost of electricity might jump another 9 percent this winter, with heating oil not far behind with a 6 percent increase. That's on top of big increases that have already taken hold -- 34 percent for heating oil during the first six months of 2008 and 12 percent for electricity during the first five months, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

But there are simple ways to fight back against soaring energy expenses. It's hard to estimate just how much you can lower bills, but here are 20 tips that can certainly add up (some, like a programmable thermostat, can save hundreds of dollars all on their own):

In the Kitchen

1. Don't overstock your fridge. Holidays mean an abundance of food, but because air can't circulate properly in an overloaded refrigerator, the compressor has to work harder than it should.

2. Buy a toaster oven so you don't have to turn on the full-size oven just to reheat a turkey breast.

3. Try making holiday meals in a slow-cooker. According to Progress Energy, a North Carolina energy company, it costs 2 cents an hour to use a slow cooker -- only 18 cents for an eight-hour roast. Firing up an electric oven burns more than 22 times as much power per hour.

4. Use ceramic or glass when cooking -- it allows you to lower your oven temperature by about 25 degrees F. and the food cooks just as quickly.

5. Deck the halls (and save money). If you're into lighting up your house with holiday decorations, opt for LED holiday lights. The bigger your display, the bigger your savings when the power bill arrives in January.

6. Thinking about a new TV for the holidays? Today's plasma and LCD sets can account for about 10 percent of the average home's energy consumption, so pay attention to ratings from the federal program Energy Star.

Continued on page 2:  Heating and Cleaning

 

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