If only you could buy barrels of oil and store them in your house. It would allow you keep a better handle on energy prices. But you can’t so you have to look elsewhere to save a little money.
One of the items that many people recommend are compact lightbulbs. These last a lot longer and use about a third less energy. This sounds nice, but they are pricey and I have not found them to last anywhere as long as they say. You should make sure to replace them in light fixtures that are on for long periods of time. Rooms where lights are turned off and on frequently don”t make good candidates. You can also buy them at big box stores for some savings. They will only get better in regards to technology so you may as well start buying them.
Another way to save costs is to just admit your parents were right and start turning off lights when you leave a room. All those kilowatts add up and will cost you a couple bucks a month. Also, if you have a CRT monitor, replace it with a LCD or make sure to turn if off. They use a ton of energy and also heat a room which is bad in the summer in, say, Florida or California.
Purchasing energy efficient appliances, such as washers, dryers and fridges is another great way but that will set you back up front. Dryers use a lot of energy (even the energy-efficient ones), so if you live in an appropriate climate, try stringing up a clothes line in your back yard. We line-dry pretty much everything during the summer. Even socks and towels. They get a little stiff, but the trade-off is a lower energy bill.
*NOTE: Don’t hang your clothes out on the line if there is a 500 acre grass-fire burning in the vicinity. All your clothes will be smoky and then you’ll just have to wash them again!
Air conditioning seems to be the main expense for most people living on hot climates such as California and Florida. In California it has been known to double our total energy bills! During the summer, in order to skimp on using the a/c, we keep the windows open at night and close everything up during the day. We are fortunate enough to live in an area where we often get a cool breeze in the evening. As soon as the sun starts heating things up in the morning, we close the windows and blinds all the way. Not only does it keep out some of the heat, but a darkened house seems a bit cooler during those hot months.
If you have the option, go with a gas stove/oven. Natural gas is much cheaper than electricity. If you already have an electric stove/oven (as we do), use your microwave when you can. It takes more energy to heat up the oven and stove than it does to use your microwave. This is a hard one for me, as I love to cook and bake! One small trick that I have for the oven is this: I keep a pizza stone in my oven on the bottom rack. I preheat the oven all the way to 500 or 550 degrees, then turn it down to the needed temperature for baking. The stone helps regulate the temperature inside the oven and may (or may not – the jury is still out) save a little energy.