The New Year is a time for positive changes, from committing to daily running to reading a new book each month, but what about your energy habits? Make 2017 the year to challenge yourself to become more energy efficient – reducing not only the amount of energy you might waste, but also your hard-earned cash. After all, did you know the average U.S. family spends $2,000 each year on home energy costs?

Take a look around your home to determine where you can save the most energy, and then challenge yourself to reduce your use. A few small changes to your normal routine can really add up throughout the year.

  • Run the washing machine or dishwasher only when they are full: The average household uses 400 gallons of water a day – adding up to about $200 a year. Resolve to never run these machines more than you need, and save water! You’ll do even better if you wash clothes in cold water and turn off your dishwasher’s heated dry cycle. 
  • Stop buying incandescent light bulbs: Did you know that 90 percent of the energy from incandescent light bulbs is given off as heat, not light? In other words, you waste a lot of money powering these bulbs. Resolve to replace incandescent light bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs that will also last much longer. While you’re at it, incorporate natural sun light into your home by opening blinds and curtains.
  • Unplug electronics, chargers, and appliances when they are not in use: A standby power load (or vampire load), may be larger than you think – about 5 percent of your home's energy use. It may not sound like much, but it’ll add up over 2017. Resolve to unplug these items when not in use, or plug them into a power strip that can be turned off when you’re away.
  • Combine multiple errands into one trip: Households that drive report spending approximately $3,000 a year on gasoline. Resolve to spend less time driving and less money on gas by combining your errands, and trying out alternative forms of transportation like public transit and biking.

Use this energy score guide to find out your current score, and make it your goal in 2017 to improve it. The lower the score, the more energy efficient you are!

For more information on budgeting and lowering your household bills, contact your local Personal Financial Management Program.