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5 Ways to Slash Energy Costs This Summer

Here’s how to trim your utility bills during the hot season

Lower Energy Bills Now

OK, you cleaned your furnace filter, caulked your leaky windows and even wrapped your water heater in a cozy insulating blanket. What's next to save on your energy bill this summer? Depending on your budget and your gumption, here are five simple steps to consider.

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Go for Gadgets

Discover which appliances use more energy with the Kill A Watt power meter (about $25). Kill energy-sucking "vampires" such as cable boxes with Belkin Conserve products ($10 to $40). And the Nest thermostat can be set via smartphone ($250).

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Give Solar a Look

By leasing solar panels instead of buying them, you pay just a monthly fee. "You know exactly what it's going to cost, and it's often 10 to 15 percent less than the local utility rate," says Jonathan Bass of solar-energy provider SolarCity.

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Keep Your Cool

Run heat-generating appliances like ovens and dryers early in the morning or late at night. Or better yet, not at all: A clothesline will save the $100 a year it can cost to run your dryer. And ditch your incandescents for cooler CFL or LED lightbulbs.

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Rethink Your Roof

Who wears all black on a hot day? Installing a sunlight-reflecting "cool roof" or adding an approved coating to an existing roof can reduce temperatures up there by 50 to 60 degrees, trimming air-conditioning costs 20 percent.

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Put Your Yard to Work

Trees, shrubs and vine-covered trellises are a great way to shield your home from the elements. "Trees reduce bills not just by shading your house but by cooling the air by releasing moisture," says Asa Foss of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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