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Dreaming of a summer vacation? Tired of staying inside? Lowering your energy bill is a great way to save money and help the environment at the same time. On average, Americans pay $2,200 for their utilities every year. $1,200 of that is for electricity. What people don’t know is that most ways to cut down on your bill are inexpensive or even completely free. Read on, and we’ll walk you through some of the most helpful ways to save money on your bill (and get you closer to that margarita in paradise).

1. Switch energy suppliers

First and foremost, check to see if your energy supplier is overcharging you. Many people are under the impression that they only have one option when it comes to their utility company, but this is typically not the case. Start by checking out websites like where you can compare energy rates the same way you would with hotels or air travel.

Your energy company may already have programs in place designed to reward customers who use energy saving methods. Check out the energy company’s website and see where you can save. Local, state, and federal programs also reward people for using alternative energy sources such as solar power. Look online and see if you are eligible for these rewards.

2. Use energy efficient light bulbs

One of the best cost-cutting purchases you can make is by buying compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, ENERGY STAR-certified CFLs can save you between $30 and $80 per light bulb. This is because they use 70 to 90 percent less energy than your standard incandescent bulbs.

Firstly, you want to replace your most often used lighting fixtures. Then if you want to buy more, you can replace all of the light bulbs in your home.

You will soon notice how much less often you need to replace your bulbs. The average compact fluorescent light bulbs have an average lifespan of 6,000 hours to 15,000 hours while the standard incandescent light bulbs only last between 750 hours to 1,000 hours.

3. Unplug your electronics

Although there are a number of electronic appliances that are best kept plugged in, many of the electronics we use do not need to be plugged in all the time. Phone chargers are a classic example of electronics that suck unnecessary power when plugged in, even when they are not charging anything.

If you have any video game consoles, spare televisions, or even toasters that don’t get used too often, then it would be wise to unplug them when not in use. Go ahead and look around your home. Make note of all of the appliances and see which ones you can afford to unplug when they are not being used.

4. Keep your AC in the shade

Give it a try this summer as an experiment and see how it goes. I didn’t even know this one, but having an air conditioning unit placed in direct sunlight can use up to 10 percent more electricity. If your AC unit sits in the sun, place some tall plants or trees near it so that some of the sun can be blocked.

Be careful not to place any vegetation too close to the unit though, as that can assist in clogging. So long as it provides some sort of a barrier from the sun, it will be helpful. If you are just moving into a new place, and having a new unit installed, try to opt for the north-facing side of the building if possible. This is where the least amount of direct sunlight hits throughout the day.

5. Check up on your filters

You check in with your friends and family, sure, but how often are you checking in on your AC unit? Make sure that your AC filters are clean and the whole unit is tuned up. An air conditioner that runs at peak efficiency will cost less to run than one that needs to draw more energy to cool a room. It may sound like just another extra step, but it really does pay off. Give it a try this summer as an experiment and see how it goes.

Final words

Congratulations! You’re now an energy-saving expert (look at you, saving the planet) and your wallet is starting to look a little bit bigger. Stay shady and cool, make sure to use energy efficient products, and don’t let your AC unit get left behind in the dust. What ways do you know of for saving money on your electricity bill?

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