4 tips for saving on utilities year-round

Whether you're cooling your home this summer or thinking back on those nasty gas bills from heating your home during a harsh winter, the thought of paying your utilities at the end of the month is rarely - if ever - pleasant. However, the pain can be eased just a bit if you make some simple adjustments that have the potential to cut down on your monthly utility bill. If you really need to knock a few dollars or more off of your bills this month, here are a few tips to help you do so. 

1. Try painting your roof white
A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Heat Island Group found that buildings with roofs painted white required 40 percent less energy to heat than those coated with black paint. Bankrate writes that with a cheap white paint such as an elastomeric coating you could save $120 or more annually on cooling costs. Elastomeric coating is inexpensive, tough and waterproof - which means the paint will not only reduce cooling costs, it will boost your roof's water resistance and durability. 

2. Keep an eye on your thermostat
U.S. News and World Report recommends watching your thermostat in order to save on heating and cooling - a large portion of your monthly utilities. Every degree you lower your thermostat is equivalent to approximately three dollars saved. If you live in the Northeast, a three degree difference on your thermostat could save $135 to $189 yearly. 

3. Check the house nightly to confirm nothing is running 
Often a midnight stroll through the house will reveal more electronics running than you think. Whether it's the cable box, the lights or a fan, sometimes it seems as though something is always left on. Bankrate writes that it takes about $9 a year to run a single florescent light bulb through the night, $21 for a conventional bulb and $35 annually to leave a ceiling fan on high over night. According to U.S. News and World Report $10 billion a year is wasted on vampire energy or standby power. A $40 smart power strip will save $100 per year on vampire energy costs. 

4. Cover up the cracks 
Bankrate reports that leaving all the cracks in your home uncovered is equivalent to leaving a window open all year long. In the winter this can be a lot of cold air streaming into your home, and during the summer that is your air conditioner's hard work slipping out through the door frame. Check around frames, in your basement and the entry and exit points of pipes for potential leaks. 

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