With home energy costs skyrocketing, the phrase "little things mean a lot" couldn't be more timely! Fortunately, many energy tweaks don't require a handful of money nor a great deal of time to perform.

Here are seven no cost/low cost energy savers, great steps to start to trim down your home-energy costs:

1. Turn down the temperature on your water heater: If you've ever spent the night at a hotel where the hot water scalded you the second it poured from the tap, it signaled one way that the hotel was losing money. Similarly, keeping your water heater turned even a few degrees too high can cost you hundreds of dollars over time. You may find your water use dwindling, too, since less cold water is required to cool down the hot! While it may take a few adjustments to get everyone in the family pleased with the new hot water temperature, it's an improvement you can take to the bank.

2. Check for air leaking around doors: Is there a swoosh of air seeping in under and around the doorjamb? Start by re-hanging any poorly installed doors and applying inexpensive weather stripping. Over time, replace any doors that aren't insulated and replace broken or missing storm doors.

3. Close the air vents in rooms not in use as well as the door to those rooms: Our grandparents used this trick, closing off rooms and even wings of the house they weren't currently using. For added efficiency, open the window coverings in these rooms in the winter to let in sunshine, and keep them closed in the summer to avoid cool air from seeping out.

4. Move lights and other heat-producing elements away from your thermostat: You probably can't control where the thermostat is located in your house, but you can control what you locate around it. Even a pole lamp or television set within a few feet can cause additional to heat to kick on your air conditioner and drive up your bill.

5. Clean/replace your furnace/air conditioning filter: For less than five dollars, a clean furnace or air conditioning filter is the best financial insurance you can buy. During heavy use periods, replacing the filter every thirty days is advised. Make sure you don't overlook an annual system check for your furnace.

Additionally, make sure that shrubs, patio furniture, or other blockages aren't impeding the flow of air around your outside air conditioning unit or heat pump. These can cause the unit to overwork and potentially overheat.

6. When possible, operate large, heat emanating appliances early in the day: Another tip from Grandma, who knew exactly what she was doing by cooking early in the morning -- even before the advent of skyrocketing utility costs. Today using a microwave instead of an oven will save electricity and won't pour as much heat into the kitchen. If possible, turn off the drying cycle to your dishwasher and let the dishes air dry instead.

7. Contact your local utility company to request an energy audit: As a community service, most utility companies will perform an energy audit on your home, typically free of charge. They'll check for proper insulation, cracks in the eaves and roof that may be leaking precious energy, and even show you how replacing windows with newer, more energy efficient can permanently lower your utility bill. In addition, some utility companies help you finance necessary improvements, charging only a nominal (if any) rate of interest.

With this low cost/no cost seven-step home energy checklist, you'll not only trim energy costs, but keep on top of home repairs that could cost thousands of dollars over time.

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