MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Free tricks to lower your power bill

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We demonstrated how you can lower your power bill using inexpensive gadgets, but there are ways to do it without spending a dime. Here are a few simple steps that can reduce what you pay the power company.

You'll know where to start by looking at your usage history on your monthly statement.

"This house has a very high usage in July, August, September," said  Andy Farmer, manager at Va Energy Sense. "Address tasks and projects to reduce your use of the air conditioning system."

Experiment with your comfort level by raising your thermostat a degree or two.

"It can maybe save you 10, 20% on your utility bill."

If you've got a ceiling fan, use it. It pulls a lot less energy than your AC.

"It's important that it's going clockwise in the summer so it's pushing air down."

Ceiling fans can make a room feel three to five degrees cooler. Curtains and blinds are more than just decoration.

"If you use your blinds to reduce that glare, it'll help cool your house."

A toaster oven has a little clock readout on the front. You may cook with it a few times a week, but it's using electricity every minute of the day. Even your computer, when it's sitting there not powered up. Electricity is flowing through the system and being used.

Unplug things like convection ovens that pull power all the time.

Inexpensive outlet covers that block air leakage and whistles that sound when your air filter needs to be changed are free - just go to the Ashland Strawberry Fair or the Hanover Tomato Festival. Visit Virginia Energy Sense's booth - they'll be giving them away at no cost.

The Virginia Energy Sense website has many more tricks you can use in your home, plus a "do-it-yourself" guide for larger projects.

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