Saving money starts at home. Here are some often overlooked ways to help reduce your utilities bill.

When money is tight, even small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in the long run, such as bringing a lunch instead of buying one or cycling to work instead of driving.

One way to cut costs, that is often overlooked, is reducing your home energy costs. By making small changes to your home, you not only save money on your hydro and heating / air conditioning bills, but you might make a positive impact on the environment too.

Proper insulation, low energy appliances and smart use of hydro are a great place start. Here are some tips for keeping home energy costs low:

Insulate Everything

It’s believed that about half of every dollar you spend on your energy bill comes from either heating or cooling your home. This is why it’s exceptionally important to check for drafts from all windows, doors and even walls. Proper insulation will not only make it easier for you to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, but could also reduce your energy by bill by five to ten per cent!

Unplug Gadgets & Appliances

Have you ever heard of phantom power? It could be costing you money and you may not even notice. Many gadgets, devices and appliances drain energy even when they are not currently in use. Some of the biggest phantom power culprits commonly found around the home are televisions, desktop computers, video game consoles and stereo systems. Be sure to look for the Energy Star logo on larger appliances to make sure you’re using the most energy-efficient products possible.

Switch to Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Switching to energy efficient light bulbs can save you up to $75 a year. The best options for energy efficient bulbs are usually LEDs of fluorescent bulbs. While these bulbs are generally a little more expensive than traditional halogens, they tend to last longer and the money saved long term more than makes up for it.

Control the Temperature

By adjusting the temperature in your home you can save quite a lot of money. With a programmable thermostat, you can save costs by setting your temperature to be comfortable when you are home and lowering the temperature when you are out of the house or sleeping. Even lowering the temperature in your house by a couple degrees can make a big difference – and if you get cold, put on an extra layer! Be sure to also adjust the temperature on your water heater to prevent it from constantly running.

Take Shorter Showers

Yes, there is nothing more relaxing than a nice, hot shower, but is it worth the high energy costs? Plain and simple, the shorter your shower, the more you can save. Also check for leaky taps and faucets, as their dripping can actually cost more than you think.

Have any other ideas to help reduce home energy costs? Share them with us on Twitter – @AffirmFinancial!