Last week, we discussed the benefits of energy efficient appliances – one, of course, being their ability to decrease your energy bills. This week, we thought we’d take some time to look at other ways you and your family can save on your home energy bills. Check Your Insulation & Weather Stripping: One of the best ways to help reduce your energy bills is to keep the heat that you pay for inside your home for as long as possible. To do so, make sure that your home is well insulated. A prime culprit of home heat loss is the attic. Heat naturally rises and if your attic lacks insulation, warmth will easily escape. In most cases, insulation is worth the investment – Energy Star estimates you can save up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs by effectively insulating your home. Also, double check the weather stripping around your doors and windows to ensure a strong seal. Weather stripping is also relatively affordable and easy to replace. Control Your Usage: Effectively control your energy use with a programmable thermostat. With an average cost of less than a hundred dollars, this affordable device can save you big. According to the US Department of Energy, simply turning your thermostat back seven to ten degrees from your normal temperature for approximately eight hours a day can save you up to 10% on your heating and cooling bill. Use your programmable thermostat to drop your home’s temperature while you are at work or sleeping and bring it back up before you return home or wake up. Use Your Cold Cycle Whenever Possible: According to the MN Energy Challenge, 90% of the energy that your washing machine uses is to heat the water. Save your machine the work (and your wallet the expense), by washing your clothing on cold whenever possible. Use Your Dishwasher Efficiently: Make the most of the energy used to run your dishwasher by using your machine as efficiently as possible. Never run a load half full – instead fill it up each time. Hand wash large items like pots and pans to take full advantage of available space. For ultimate savings, turn off your machine’s heat dry cycle and hand dry your dishes.