April 22nd may have marked the official “earth day” but that doesn’t mean homeowners can’t work to sustain the environment all year long. While installing solar panels and energy-efficient lightening systems may not be in your budget, there are simple and practical ways homeowners can be green and save some extra green in their pockets as well. To learn how to maintain a sustainable home and lifestyle while reducing energy costs, continue reading below.

Change Thermostats. Many homeowners are unaware that by simply switching the thermostats on your water heater from “hot” to “warm” (140 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and switching your refrigerator to 38 degrees Fahrenheit can save as much as 25 percent on your annual utility bill. On a similar note, washing your clothes in cold water as opposed to hot water can save you a bundle as well.  This is because according to experts, washing your clothes in hot water instead of cold water for a year eats up more energy than if you left the refrigerator door open 24 hours a day.

Unplug Appliances Not in Use. Many home owners are equally unaware that leaving appliances plugged in when they are not in use still eats up energy and is added on to your electricity bill. So make sure to unplug electronics when not in use such as gaming systems, cell phone and laptop chargers and especially computers—the screen saver does not save energy.  In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a computer left on all day uses more power than an energy efficient refrigerator. While the sleep mode setting can help alleviate costs, it’s best just to shut the computer entirely off when not in use. Also be cautious of household items like decorative lamps and coffee pots when not in use as well. An easy way to manage appliances and shut them all off at once is to invest in a power strip chord. Note you may want to avoid unplugging devices that need to be programmed every time it is turned on such as television sets.

Clean Vents. Ensuring that your vents are clean and free of dust and that your filters are new is also another easy was to reduce energy costs since the cooling or heating system will work more effectively without having anything blocking its path. On a similar note, always make sure that the vents are free of furniture or decorative plants that may be blocking air flow.

Secure Insulation. An easy way to keep the house cool or heated is to first make sure that all of the windows are locked to make sure air does not leak out and reinforce insulation by adding weather stripping along both windows and door sweeps.

Switch Light bulbs. Lastly, switching from  traditional light bulbs to LED or CFL bulbs will not only cut utility costs, but they  also last 10 to 15 times longer than regular bulbs which means you’ll spend less money trying to replace them and won’t have to deal with replacing them as frequently,  especially in hard to reach places like ceiling fans.

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This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who writes for online colleges.  She loves to write education, career, frugal living, money saving etc related articles. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com.