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What home appliance costs the most to run, and when should it be replaced with a newer model? We'll get to this trick question in a minute. If saving money on your monthly bills interests you, along with helping the environment, check out 18 Ways to Save on Utilities.
Here are a couple of my favorites. Let it hang out: With dryers costing about $85 annually to operate on average, you can save by using a drying rack (usually less than $30) or an indoor or outdoor retractable clothesline (under $20) to dry clothes most of the way. Throw items in the dryer while they're still a little damp -- and you'll recover the cost of the drying rack or clothesline in a matter of months. Stop gushing: Turn valves under kitchen and bathroom sinks halfway off. You'll still have water you need to brush your teeth and wash pots and pans, and you'll save water and money.
Did you know that 18 Ways to Save on Utilities is part of a special section called 99 Great Ways to Save from AARP Bulletin? Check it out for great tips on saving on health care, your car and gas, food and other day-to-day expenses.
Now, the answer to our trivia question (drumroll, please)... Your refrigerator is usually a home's number 1 or number 2 biggest energy user, especially if it's older (although in some cases your dryer may be #1). This calculator at energystar.gov lets you enter your fridge's model number or type and in a few clicks you'll see how much energy it uses and when it makes sense to replace it. Have your bill handy so you can enter your local rates. Want to know about electricity costs for other appliances? See How much electricity do my household items use?.
Have other tips to lower utility bills? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page. If you or someone you know is having a tough time paying for cooling costs (or heating later in the year), there are programs to help. See how AARP is fighting against high utility rate increases around the country, and how you can get involved.
Photo courtesy of FrozenCapybara