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Many people assume that their monthly electricity bills are a fixed expense. But there really are things you can do to reduce your cost of electricity. Consider the following:

Clean up. Dirt behind your fridge, in your dryer lint catcher, and around your air conditioner coils will increase the energy it takes for them to do their job. Twice a year, clean coils and clean the dryer vent.

Buy energy-efficient appliances. Modern energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, ovens, stoves, dishwashers, and clothes washers and dryers, use significantly less energy than older appliances. Current energy efficient refrigerators, for example, use 40% less energy than conventional models did in 2001.

Avoid using appliances during the daytime, when many utility companies charge a higher rate for electricity.

Keep your refrigerator filled. The fuller your fridge is, the better the temperature will stay regulated each time you open and close the door. The items inside retain the cold (much like pizza stones in ovens) and help radiate the already-refrigerated food, which brings the normal temperature of the fridge back quickly after the door is closed, thereby helping to lower your energy consumption and minimize your utility bills.

See advice for choosing light bulbs.

See advice to unplug electronics and other appliances when not in use.