En español | A blanket solution. By insulating your electric water heater and its outgoing pipes, you can lower the temperature setting and save up to $200 a year. Pipe sleeves start at $2 for 12 feet, while heater blankets run about $20. Check with a plumber for safety.
See also: Affordable Utilities Now
Grill with sun. Investigate buying a solar cooker, which works by focusing the rays of the sun on food. Great for picnics.
Go solar. Advanced systems let you light your home and sell excess electricity to your power company. Simpler ones heat your home and water. All cut your energy costs but require major upfront investment with a seven- to 20-year payback. To reduce that expense, buy used equipment, collect tax credits and stick with simpler systems. Find more information at dsireusa.org and energystar.gov.
Go out green. Biodegradable coffins and other eco-friendly burial measures can cost half to two-thirds less than traditional burials. Get information and provider listings at greenburialcouncil.org.
Auto-temperature. By installing a programmable thermostat, homeowners can save up to $180 a year in heating and cooling bills.
Go fluorescent. Replace those energy-hog incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a comparable 15-watt CFL could save you $69 over the life of the new bulb — typically seven years.
Stop gushing. Turn the valves under the kitchen and bathroom sinks halfway off. When you open a faucet above, the water won't come gushing out, but there'll be plenty to wash dishes or brush teeth.
Hang out. Your electric clothes dryer is the biggest energy-gobbling appliance in your home after the refrigerator, costing about $85 a year to run. So hang clothes outside, or inside until they're almost dry, then pop them into the dryer.
A drip in time. Your AC system and dehumidifier pull water out of the air that's perfect for gardening or car washing. Some devices will route the water to your garden.