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7 ways to save money, use less energy and fight climate change

Here are simple, straightforward steps you can take today to reduce your energy usage at home.

Robert Rodriguez/CNET

This story is part of The Cost of Climate Change, CNET's coverage of how the changing climate impacts a range of financial issues.

Climate change is one of the biggest threats of our lifetime, and it's imperative we do our part to save our future. However, it can be difficult to identify impactful, sustainable changes that can be made quickly and easily. So, here are a few tips, from simple to slightly more ambitious, that you can take today to pursue environmental sustainability from within your home. Bonus? They'll also save you thousands of dollars on utility bills. 


1. Use your dishwasher

Using your dishwasher can save you both water and electricity -- especially if it's a newer model and you're washing a full load. In fact, an Energy Star certified dishwasher can save almost 5,000 gallons of water a year, and use less than half the energy of washing dishes by hand. 

Read more: Dishwasher vs. hand washing: What saves more water? 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

2. Pay attention to your laundry

The laundry room can be a site of massive savings, both money-wise and energy-wise. Washing machines and dryers can eat up a lot of water and electricity, but small hacks like always loading up your dryer, giving your clothes an extra spin in the washer, and going with a lower dryer heat setting can make a big difference. 

Read more: How to save money on laundry day


3. Use a smart plug

A cheap and easy way to make all of your appliances and gadgets smart -- and potentially automated -- is to connect them to a smart plug. Not only do these nifty products simplify your home ecosystem, they offer energy-monitoring features, allowing you to keep an eye on your power bill, and can even be programmed to turn off lights and devices that aren't in use, again lowering your energy consumption.

Read more: Best smart plugs to buy in 2021


4. Check Energy Star ratings when buying a new appliance

Energy Stars are awarded to products that have achieved a high level of energy efficiency; the average household that uses Energy Star devices can save more than $575 a year on their energy costs.

Read More: How to save energy at home


5. Install a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat automates your house's heating and cooling process, with features that can save you money and energy over time. Their smart features include a monthly energy report, automatic home-and-away modes and remote sensors. 

Read more: 4 simple ways a smart thermostat can save you money

Stephen Shankland/CNET

6. Invest in solar devices

Solar elements can help you save on energy in a big way, While solar panels are incredible energy alternatives, related products, such as device charges or outdoor solar lights, can also give you a bang for your buck. 

Read more: 4 cheap ways to get solar power at home ASAP

Department of Energy

7. Apply for an energy efficient mortgage

This often overlooked homeowners' incentive can help you finance energy efficiency upgrades, lower utility bills and even afford a more expensive home. 

Read more: Energy-efficient mortgages: How they work, who is eligible -- and how to get approved