We have all kinds of ways to save money on energy use

You really don’t have to spend a lot of money to save money on your energy bills this fall and winter. We’ve gone to key websites like energy.gov and TVA.com to find some of the easiest – and best things you can do around your home to cut back on your energy use. And, it doesn’t make a difference if you rent or own your home or apartment. Instead, the difference is in what you’re willing to do to save.

1. Look outside
Take advantage of heat from the sun. Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. And if it is still balmy fall weather, turn off that heating unit, open windows and enjoy.

2. Track your energy use
Participate in Ripley Power & Light’s Prepay Program and you can easily keep track of your energy use. Each morning, you will receive an email or a text message telling you the balance on your prepaid account. By comparing it to the previous morning’s balance, you can follow your energy use.

3. Appliances
Whether you are shopping for a new television or washing machine, always look for ENERGY STAR-certified appliances. They may cost a bit more, but you will save much more than the cost difference over the life of the appliance. For example, new ENERGY STAR washers use about 25 percent less energy than conventional models.

4. Lighting
If you are still using incandescent light bulbs, it’s time to switch them out to LED lights, which use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer. By the way, you really should turn off lights when you won’t be using them for awhile. 

Thinking ahead
Christmas season is three months away. When you start shopping for Christmas lights, be an energy Scrooge and buy the energy-saving LED lights.

5. Electronics
Plug your computers, printers, TVs and other electronics into power strips, and turn off power strips when equipment is not in use.  With Halloween approaching, let’s call them vampire electronics because they continue to use electricity when we don’t know it.

6. Bathroom
Do you run the bathroom sink water as you brush your teeth? That’s not a good practice when you’re trying to save on your utilities. You can also save water with aerating, low-flow showerheads.

7. Laundry
Laundry is no one’s favorite chore, and it doesn’t help that washers and dryers are among the costliest appliances to operate. Since most of us do at least a few loads of laundry each week, it’s worth keeping these points in mind: Wash with cold water. Use cold water detergents. Wash full loads. Clean the lint filter on the dryer.

8. Refrigerator & Freezer
Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 35° to 38°F for the fresh food compartment and 0°F for separate freezers for long-term storage. Oh, you should also make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. You can test this by putting a dollar bill in the door when you close it. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.

9. Heating
Your heating this winter will be the biggest item on your utility bill. You can save as much as 10 percent this winter on heating by simply turning your thermostat back 7° to 10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. Try 68° for when you are sleeping or away from home. Better yet, try 68° for most of the day and then put on a sweater if you get chilly. Early fall is also a good time to get your heating system checked out.

10. Water heating
Water heating accounts for about 18 percent of your home’s energy use. Reducing your hot water use and using energy-saving strategies can help you reduce your monthly water heating bills. So, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands.