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5 Surprising Tips for Saving Money at Home

Slash Your Electric Bill

You're probably already diligent about turning off lights when you leave a room and setting your thermostat a few degrees cooler in the winter or warmer in the summer. But did you know that you can save an estimated 5 to 10 percent on your electric bill by unplugging your appliances when you aren't using them?

Many electronic gadgets and appliances consume power when they're turned off but still plugged in to an outlet, a phenomenon known as phantom power. To reduce phantom power consumption in your home, plug appliances such as phone chargers, TVs, DVD players and computers into power strips, then turn off the power strips when the devices aren't in use. (Just be sure to follow normal shutdown procedures before you cut power to things like computers and other sophisticated electronics.)

Many electric companies offer free energy audits that show you where your utility dollars are going. While the audit itself won't save you money, many of the remedies your auditor recommends are likely to be inexpensive DIY projects like leaky windows or missing insulation, and you'll see the difference in your bills once you make any recommended upgrades or repairs [source: Energy Star].

If you have central air conditioning, see if your electric company offers one of the increasingly popular A/C savings programs, which pay you anywhere from $100 to $200 per year for letting the power company shut down your air conditioner for a short period of time each hour. Your energy provider will install a switch with a small radio receiver on your air conditioning unit, and then remotely cycle your A/C as needed during peak usage hours to reduce your energy consumption without compromising your comfort. In addition to the credits you earn from the electric company, you'll save a bit on the electricity it takes to run your A/C.

To make sure the cost of repairs to your HVAC system doesn't blow a hole in your budget, read on to see if a home warranty can help you save money.