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Easy ways to cut your energy bill

Want to really trim your monthly bill? Get rid of that bulky computer monitor and unplug your phone charger.

By Gerri Willis, CNN

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A bill recently introduced in California would ban the sale of energy-hogging incandescent light bulbs by 2012. Aside from changing your light bulbs, there are some other things you can do around the house to save you energy and money.

1: Take an energy audit

Your home isn't very energy efficient if you have less than six inches of insulation in your attic, if your furnace is 10 years or older, or you have lots of windows on the North side and you live in a cold climate, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

But, there are some specific calculations you can make to determine just how energy efficient your home is. Take a free energy audit online at the Department of Energy's Web site. This tool can tell you where your home is leaking energy and what you can do about it.

2: Cut the drafts

The average house loses up to 20 percent of its heat or air-conditioning leakage from air ducts alone, according to Energy Star. Make sure you repair your leaky ducts and seal drafty doors, windows and baseboards.

An easy way to figure out where the leaks may be, is to light a candle or some incense near your windows and doors and see where the flame flickers. Reducing drafts in a home could save you up to 30 percent on your utility bill annually.

3: Replace your appliances

Replacing your appliances with Energy Star appliances is another way to benefit your wallet.

First, Energy Star products are intended to exceed energy efficiency levels of other products by 20 to 75 percent. It is estimated that the average household could save $400 a year just by using Energy Star Products.

You'll also want to get in touch with your utility company to see what tax incentives and rebates are offered for replacing water-guzzling or power-hogging appliances with eco-friendly ones. To find out more about Energy Star products, go to energystar.gov.

4: Get unplugged

You might not know it, but all those little gadgets you keep plugged in are taking a toll on your electricity bill. You know, those things like your Ipod charger, your cell phone and Blackberry charger.

Even keeping the coffee pot plugged in is wasting energy and costing you money. In fact, all these devices make up about 5 percent of your bill! Here's a tip: turn off that computer and unplug these vampire appliances, and you'll be taming the wild energy hog.

5: Think flatscreen

To cut your energy bill, you may also want to consider replacing that bulky computer monitor you have in the home office. A flat panel computer screen uses a third of the electricity of regular computer monitors. The difference is that same as if you leave a 50-watt bulb on all year.

And if you're thinking about replacing that big screen TV, think about investing in an LCD - it uses half the energy of a plasma TV. Top of page

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.