We all know how important it is to be conscious of our energy consumption and minimize our carbon footprint. Not only is it good for the planet, but it can benefit our wallets, too, as energy bills sky-rocket with heat waves, droughts, record-breaking snowfall and artic temperatures. Fortunately, it’s easy to find little ways to save money and reduce your energy consumption. And if you’re currently living in dorms or apartments and don’t have to worry as much about bills or home maintenance, it still helps to develop energy-saving habits early on – and practice lowering your energy consumption!  So let’s look at a few simple steps you can take:

1. Unplug It

Unplugging your electronics when not in use can save a surprising amount of energy. Even plugs that aren’t plugged into anything besides the wall are creating a steady drain. Take out phone chargers, laptop cords and lamp plugs when you aren’t using them — especially before going on vacation!


2. Good Seals

Proper seals around windows and doors (especially garage doors) can help prevent cool air from escaping and will keep your home cooler (or warmer). Poor seals make your HVAC system work much harder and drain energy into keeping the outside temperate, which is pretty pointless. It’s also a good idea to use insulating paint as a primer on your ceilings and walls to reduce the amount of heat that transfers down through the ceiling from the attic (and vice versa during winter).


3. Switch Light Bulbs

Changing over to CFL or LED bulbs is slightly more expensive for the initial investment, but you won’t have to buy new bulbs for years. That’s in addition to lowering your energy bills without even having to think about it.


4. Energy-Saver Appliances

Appliances that have the energy-saver logo will decrease your home’s energy use simply because of how they’re designed. They’ve been independently certified to meet government standards and are much less expensive than they were a few years ago. Toilets, light bulbs, stoves and washing machine sets are all great options to cut energy use with more efficient appliances.


5. Adjust the Thermostat

Keeping your thermostat a tiny bit higher in the summer and a little lower in the winter will save you energy and money all year long. A digital thermostat can help. Set it to a comfortable temperature for the morning and evening, while letting it get warmer or cooler while you’re at school or work. Don’t turn it completely off, however, as this will cause the system to work harder once it’s turned on — negating the energy savings you had while it was off.


6. Cut Heat Use

In the summer, you don’t have much use for heat. Instead of using the dryer, hang dry your clothes outside. Avoid using the oven or stove during the hot part of the day, and try washing your clothes with cold water instead of warm.


7. Work With Renewables

Solar, wind and geothermal technology is quickly advancing, and more of it is becoming available to consumers. Solar, of course, is the most widely available and least expensive option. Work with professionals who are committed to helping the environment when looking into this option. If it’s possible to install solar panels on your home, they can provide a dramatic drop in your energy use. If you can do enough of them, you may even be able to sell energy back to the electric companies!


Anum Yoon started and maintains Current on Currency, where she shares her hard-earned insights on money management.