Everyone is always looking for ways to help save money and keep costs down in our everyday lives. In many cases, we can save money simply by thinking ahead and planning. This is especially true in terms of our homes. There are ways we can save money, keep costs down and be more energy efficient without even thinking about it. You might be wondering what they are, so read below and find out!

Use a programmable thermostat. Not home for eight hours a day? Don’t set your home to the temperature it would be if you were there! By determining a schedule for the temperature, you can help avoid unnecessary heating and cooling costs. This way, you aren’t paying for heat or air conditioning that you aren’t even there to enjoy! If you get your utilities through the City of Columbia, you can sign up for their Load Management program that helps reduce electrical usage during peak hours and saves you money.

Layer! Going along with the programmable thermostat, you don’t need to always have the heat blasting while you are home. Use sweaters, sweatshirts and extra blankets to keep warm instead of always bumping the thermostat up.

Make repairs as you find them. Avoid larger, costly home repairs by nipping small household problems in the bud. For example, fixing a leaky faucet now can avoid unexpected higher charges on your water bill.

If you aren’t using it, turn it off and unplug it. Regardless if it is in use or not, any plugged-in appliance requires some charge. If an appliance or electronic is usually off, unplug it. That way, you aren’t paying for something you may only use on occasion.

Insulate. Make sure your house is properly insulated, especially as we approach the colder months. This can be as simple as putting a runner under the door to keep out drafts or completely insulating (or reinsulating) your home. See what needs to be done and what methods are most appropriate for your needs.

Check your filters. Make sure your heating and cooling is running properly by inspecting and, if necessary, replacing the filters. It’s recommended to check your furnace filter once a month during the colder season to make sure it is running at the optimal level.

Get your home inspected or get an energy audit. If you’d like to be more cost- and energy-efficient, try a home inspection. A professional can help you determine what (if any) repairs you may need to make, and what steps you can take to make sure your home is in tip-top shape. If you are a Columbia Water and Light customer, you can sign up for a free home energy audit or hire a certified energy audit professional to provide a comprehensive audit for your home. For Fulton residents, energy audits typically take place between late October through early April and are free of charge. Call Kandy Johnson at the warehouse at 592-3170 to set up an appointment. Someone will have to be at the house during the appointment, which takes about 45 minutes to an hour

What are you doing to keep your home cost- and energy-efficient?