The lowly microwave is one of your household’s most energy efficient appliances, so use it instead of an oven to reduce your bill.

Your home may be your castle, but it can also be your money pit if you’re not careful. Between home repairs and the rising cost of fuel, food, and electricity, many Americans are feeling the pinch. 

But you can do something about it.

“Americans have a lot more power than they think when it comes to reducing their energy costs,” said Dave Llorens, CEO of One Block Off the Grid, a start-up that negotiates group deals on big-ticket green home improvements like solar panels.

“State level incentives can go a long way toward reducing the cost of money-saving items, like solar panels and electric cars. Call your local government office to find out if incentives are available to you,” added Llorens. “You may be surprised how much you can save.”

Here are some ways you can reduce your home energy costs:

• Small things add up. There are lots of little things you can do that, when taken together, can reduce your energy costs significantly. For example, setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees (or the warmest setting you can tolerate) saves money because many homeowners forget to adjust it down when the weather cools. 

Also, the lowly microwave is one of your household’s most energy efficient appliances, so use it instead of an oven to reduce your bill and keep your home cooler in summer months.

The washer and dryer are two of a household’s biggest energy hogs, so doing your washing at night when electricity rates are lower and line drying during the day can save a bundle. 

• Install solar panels. In summer months, solar panels can take the burn out of electric bills that spike with air conditioning use. It used to take a long time for solar panels to show a positive return on investment, but new green companies are finding ways to reduce that payback period.

Some companies organize group deals on solar panels based on how many residents in the area are interested, then connects them with reliable local installers for free. This lets consumers buy solar panels at an average of 15 percent below market rate. 

• Consider an electric car. If you spend a lot of money on gas every month, you should run the numbers and see how much money going electric would save in the long run.

It usually costs $25 to $40 a month to charge electric cars. Plus, you can use solar panels in conjunction with electric cars to reduce your monthly fuel costs to zero. 

For more tips, visit the Tucson Electric Power website at www.tep.com.

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