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Power Up! Rather, Power Down!

In a recent article from the Associated Press, Howard Gruenspecht, the acting chief of the Energy Information Administration, warned of the increase in cost to heat American homes this winter as compared to only a year ago. Depending on location and fuel type, some families can expect to pay more than a 20 percent increase over last winter. And, although oil prices are dropping, we won't really feel those effects until early 2009. Because you can't wait until February to purchase your oil, there are other energy saving tactics that can help you save money all year long.
It's getting cold outside, so here are some ways you can save a few bucks and become more energy efficient:
Install a programmable thermostat. You can save up to $180 a year by installing a programmable thermostat that controls the temperature of your home while you're at work or asleep.
Choose ENERGY STAR appliances. Save money and the environment by replacing standard model appliances with ones that are ENERGY STAR-qualified. ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances use 10-50 percent less energy and water than standard models.
Update your windows. ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can reduce your energy costs by $126-$465 per year when replacing single-pane windows or $27-$111 a year when replacing double-pane, clear glass windows.
Install dimmer switches and motion detectors. Dim the lights by 25 percent and save an average of 15 percent a year on energy costs, and extend the bulb life by four times.
Install a ceiling fan - and learn to correctly rotate it. Ceiling fans aren't just for when it's hot outside.
Install insulation. According to the Department of Energy, the leading cause of energy waste in the home is inadequate insulation and air leakage.
You can check your local home improvement store like Home Depot for more tips and products and also look to the Department of Energy for more information about how you can become more energy efficient.

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