Summer heat is still in full swing and whether you have a newer or older home there are always cost-cutting avenues worth exploring. The first thing that comes to most minds are costly improvements, such as window replacement, but those are long term savings. First and foremost is your heating and cooling. It is by far the largest energy expenditure, and the first place you should avert your attention. A little elbow grease and a few bucks now can reduce energy expenses and prevent potentially costly repairs in the future. Why put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today? Start by reducing your thermostat by 10-15 degrees eight hours a day. Whether it’s while you're gone to work or fast asleep, doing so can reduce your energy use by 10%.

Another commonly overlooked solution are filters and vents not regularly cleaned or changed. This will cause your system to work harder, driving your energy use up and costing you unnecessary money. Additionally, hiring a professional to check and reseal duct work will keep your system running more efficiently, reducing energy costs and increasing system performance and longevity. Once you've checked duct work you may want to check any windows, doors, outlet and switch covers, as well as appliances. These are common places for air to escape; maintaining air leaks throughout the home will provide energy savings year-round. Just like with heating and cooling vents and filters, clearing accumulated dust from beneath and behind appliance vents and coils allows your system to work smarter, not harder, cutting energy uses further.

Bonus trick: Try adjusting your fridge to 38 degrees and your freezer to 5 degrees. This will safely preserve your foods while lessening your energy use that much more.

Looking for savings on your power usage? Turning off ceiling fans and opting for fans that you can plug into a wall save more power. Ceiling fans aren't designed to cool your home, they are designed to circulate the already cool air throughout the room. Looking into smart power strips for your electronics will stop draining power and reduce usage. Most people are unaware that most anything with a sensor will use "vampire energy". For example, chargers that are not connected to devices or electronics in sleep mode still pull power. Ever notice chargers becoming warm to the touch? That's why. This is a problem easily solved with a smart power strip. Other simple solutions such as switching to LED lighting or adding dimmer switches can slash energy use as well.

Last on the list is commonly the least expensive utility bill, water. If you're experiencing higher than normal water bills, it's likely a leak. Check for leaky faucets, pipes, and appliances first, and then check water lines that feed to the house. After doing that, make your way to your water heater and reduce it from its standard default setting of 140 degrees to 120 degrees. It can reduce your electric or gas bill by 10%. Cut your water heater energy further by washing laundry in warm or cold water. This alone cuts energy use in half. Also, whether your interests/reasons are environmental or personal, switching to an energy efficient shower head can save you up 2,700 gallons of water per year.

If you are planning a costly home improvement, re-insulating walls may be the way to go. There is more surface area for air to escape. Ensuring crawlspaces, attics, basements, and plumbing lines are properly insulated and sealed can be a more advantageous venture vs replacing windows. A great temporary and affordable solution for dated windows is insulated window treatments and draperies, such as the room darkening sort. You feel the difference immediately without so much upfront cost. A quick Google search will provide you with plenty of options.