10 Easy Ways to Keep Energy Costs Down

Beat the heat with these energy-savings tips.

Beat the heat with these energy-savings tips
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8. Check your refrigerator and freezer temperature. The ideal refrigerator temperature runs between 37 and 40 degrees, and the ideal freezer reading is 5 degrees, according to Lyford.

Any colder, and, well, that's money you're wasting. Lyford adds that it's important to keep your refrigerator and freezer full "so they do not have to work as hard to stay cold. This can drastically lower the amount of energy they would ordinarily need to function properly."

9. Do some dusting. While you're stocking those refrigerator shelves, get out your duster, suggests Chris Chambless, co-founder and chief marketing officer for Ambit Energy, a utility based in Dallas that provides electricity and natural gas in deregulated markets across the country. He points out that when the coils underneath or behind the refrigerator are covered with dust, the appliance is working harder – "and costing you more money."

[See: 10 Ways to Cut Your Spending This Week.]

10. Plant trees. True, planting trees is sweaty work, hardly a tip for beating the heat, and if you buy them, that's an outlay of some cash. But if you plant them near your house (not too near, of course), you'll create shade, which will eventually cool off your home as the trees grow and save you some money. According to the U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research, shade from two 25-foot tall trees – one on the west side and one on the east – will save a typical house $57 a year in energy costs. As many arborists will tell you, if you plant deciduous trees – that is, trees that drop leaves during the winter – you'll get sunlight to help heat your home in the colder months.

Not that any of this tree planting advice will help you this summer, but as with so many energy saving strategies, by trying to lower your energy costs now, you may be doing your future self a favor.