Are you one of those people who hide from the mailman in fear of this month’s utility bill? Paying for water, gas and electricity is something we all have to do one way or another. If you’re a renter and utilities are included, good on ya! For the rest of us, those monthly bills can leave us gobsmacked. Utilities are also an area where you can start saving today. The more proactive you are with your consumption and use, the more money can end up in your wallet. Put it another way: Would you rather give your money to the power company or spend it on yourself? The choice is clear. Consider these power saving tips to cut back on your utility bills.

Tip #1: Check With Your Local Utility

Before you get started with all the cost cutting measures, you need to go to the source. Every utility company has a website. That’s where you’re going to find all kinds of valuable resources. You especially want to be on the lookout for “peak hours.” This is the time of day when most customers are using power. It’s also when the power company charges the most. Using big appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and dryers at off peak hours can get the savings rolling.

Tip #2: Switch Your Bulbs To LED

As a nation, we are slowly making the big light bulb switch from the old bulbs to the LED models. Why the switch? Huge savings. Consider the 40-watt LED. It only uses six watts of power. That translates into 85% less energy used in a standard bulb. The price of a LED bulb might shock you but get this: They can last for up to 20 years and cost less than a dollar a year to operate. Big savings.

Tip #3: Lower Your Thermostat

Consider this the 3 to 1 rule. Anytime you lower your thermostat by one degree, you can save 3% on your utility bill. Do the math: Dialing back from 75 degrees to 71 degrees means 12% off on the bill. Impressive.

Tip #4: Seal The Leaks

Speaking of your thermostat, it might be cold in your home because your warm air is leaking out and cold air is pouring in. Start with the easy stuff like a “door snake” for your entryways. Next, check your windows to see if they need weather stripping or upgrades. Also, get up into the attic or down in the basement to make sure your air ducts are sealed at the seams. Any time you can plug an air leak, you’ll be improving your energy efficiency.

Tip #5: Go Energy Star

If you haven’t made the switch to Energy Star rated appliances, this is the year to take care of that. Energy Star is the seal of approval from the EPA and it relates to a device running at lower energy levels while maintaining the same level of performance. An Energy Star fridge can put an additional $80 bucks in your pocket each year. The same kind of washer can add $110. These little things to add up.

Tip #6: Turn Off, Shut Down

Of course, the best way you can save on utilities is not to use them. You should never leave a room with the lights on. You should never leave water running in the sink. You should always power off your computers, televisions and other gadgets when not in use. Don’t let them just “power down.” They need to go off.

What energy tips do you follow?