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Conserving energy is one way to focus on finances

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April is Financial Literacy Month, a campaign to help focus on finances and develop healthy financial habits. One of the best ways to save money — month after month — is to conserve energy.

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Whether it’s the middle of the hot summer or the dead of winter, there are several basic no- or low-cost measures you can take to conserve energy and decrease your utility bills:

• Use a programmable thermostat to reduce your heating and cooling costs.

• Turn off computers and monitors when not in use.

• Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips and turn the strips off when equipment is not in use.

• Turn off lights when not in use.

• Close your fireplace damper when not in use.

• Take short showers; turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees.

• Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes; air dry when possible.

• Replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star rated compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs).

• Look for the Energy Star label when purchasing new appliances, lighting and electronics.

• Have a home energy assessment to identify ways to make your home more energy efficient (weather-strip doors and windows, seal air leaks, add insulation and more).

• Go to work via carpool or vanpool, or use public transportation.

For more energy-saving tips, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website at http://www.energysavers.gov/.

Also, the Division of Energy Resources offers an energy guide called “Appliances, Lighting & Electronics” at http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/images/Appliances-Lights-Elec.pdf and a fact sheet called “Ten Ways to Save Energy” at http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/images/10WaysSaveEnergy.pdf that address ways to save energy.

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