Now that we’re in a period of inflation, everyone’s looking for ways to cut back on energy costs. The average household spends more than $4,100 on utilities each year, but you can make a lot of room in your budget by cutting back on your use of electricity and natural gas. 

For example, you can use a smart thermostat so that you’re only heating or cooling your home to the degree that you need to when you’re awake and at home. You can get by with ceiling fans, a lower temperature on your water heater, and light bulbs that use less energy. Try these energy-saving tips and see if you don’t end up spending a lot less on energy costs.

1) Use a Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat is programmable. You can set it to let your house heat up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re not at home during the day, and then to kick on and cool the house to 76 degrees right before you’re due to come home from work. That way, you’re not spending the money to keep your house at 76 degrees during the eight hours you’re not home to enjoy it. You can use the same principle in the winter – just don’t let your house get colder than about 55, because you could risk freezing your pipes. If you have pets, you should of course keep their comfort and safety in mind when programming your smart thermostat.

The smart features are also useful. If you need to come home early one day, for example, you can access your thermostat remotely and tell it to start cooling down the house early. You can save up to 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling costs just by using a programmable smart thermostat to adjust your thermostat when you’re away from home during the day.

2) Turn Your Water Heater Down

You don’t want your water heater turned up too high, because you or your kids could get scalded by hot water. The absolute max you should turn your water heater up to is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you can save $36 to $61 a year by turning it down to 120. That said, if you have a dishwasher that doesn’t have a booster heater, you may want to keep your water heater turned up to at least 130 so that your dishwasher has the hot water it needs to operate.

3) Install and Use Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to cut back on heating and cooling costs. A ceiling fan can make a room feel four degrees cooler, which means you can turn the thermostat up and still feel just as cool as you would if it was set four degrees cooler. If you reverse the direction of your fan blades (so they spin clockwise), you can push warm air down from the ceiling in the winter, keeping your home more comfortable and spending less on heating. Plus, ceiling fans cost only about one cent to operate for three hours. You can even buy dual ceiling fans and ceiling fans with lights for additional functionality.

4) Use Energy-Saver Light Bulbs

You might be surprised at how much money you can save simply by switching out your incandescent bulbs for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Look for bulbs that are Energy Star certified. LED light bulbs last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs and use 90 percent less energy. They can save you $225 a year

5) Replace Older Appliances

Now, it’s true that in order to replace your old appliances, you’ve gotta have the money to buy new appliances. But newer appliances could bring big savings on your electric and natural gas bill. New, Energy Star certified appliances might use significantly fewer resources than your old appliances, especially if your old appliances are very old. 

Energy-efficient appliances produce savings over the life of the appliance, and reduce your carbon footprint, too. If you’re not sure which appliances to replace, look to the ones you use the most: refrigerator, TV, HVAC, water heater, and washer or dryer, for example. 

If energy costs are busting your budget, you need to make some changes to regain control. Fortunately, you can do a lot to control your energy costs and save hundreds on your utilities each year. Just by switching to LED light bulbs, you could put more than $200 in your pocket each year! Don’t wait any longer – cut back on your energy consumption before energy costs climb even more.