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Turn off the burner a little early

Here are some ways to monitor and reduce your electricity usage with some smart gadgets, upgrades and a few easy tricks.

According to the California Energy Commission, if you turn off the burner early, the stove will still release enough heat to finish up whatever you're cooking, but will save electricity. This tip works for most dishes, but there are a few exceptions.

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Photo by: Alina Bradford/CNET

Use a fan

If you live in an area of the world where it's summer right now -- or just hot on a regular basis -- be sure to run your ceiling fan. Using a ceiling fan can make a room feel 10 degrees cooler and uses 10 percent of the energy of a central air conditioner, according to the US National Resource Defense Council. Here are some more energy-saving tips for keeping cool.

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Use a smarter bulb

If you haven't switched to LED, do it. The US Department of Energy says that LEDs use at least 75 percent less energy -- and last 25 times longer -- than incandescent lighting. That equals a lot of savings! You don't need to worry about those long, twisty bulbs that never fit inside of light covers anymore, either. Many LEDs, like the Cree Daylight or the GE LED Daylight look just like the old incandescent bulbs. Learn more about choosing an LED bulb here.

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Use motion to stop waste

If your family members can never seem to be able to turn off a light, then the best solution is motion detectors, such as the GE Indoor 120-degree Motion-sensing Light Control or the Defiant Indoor 360 Degree Motion Sensing Socket. They only turn on when someone's in the room and then turn themselves off when they don't detect any movement. You can get these at your local home improvement store and they simply screw into light sockets. Then, you screw the (hopefully energy efficient) light bulb into the motion detector. It's crazy-easy, and the US Department of Energy says that using sensors like these can cut wasted lighting electricity by 30 percent.

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Install a dimmer

Dimming your lights reduces wattage and output, which helps save energy, according to the US Department of Energy. Some dimmers, like the Leviton Bluetooth dimmer or the GE Bluetooth Smart Switch can even be controlled by an app, making them even better at saving electricity. The app allows you to control the lights no matter where you are, so you can turn off or dim a forgotten light when you're away. Be sure to get bulbs that work with dimmer switches, though.

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Use this thing to save a bundle on your electricity bill

You may think that your electronics and appliances are energy efficient, but are you using more than you think? This $50 item may be the answer. The Belkin's WeMo Insight is a little gadget that plugs into your wall and monitors how much electricity whatever you plug into it uses. The findings may just inspire you to unplug or upgrade your energy-sucking appliances. By using an Insight, CNET's Jason Cipriani saved $840 a year on his electricity bill. Here's how he did it.

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Photo by: Belkin

Tap your circuit breaker for information

If you don't want to check one thing at a time, you can go large. Your circuit breaker panel is the hub for all of the power going through your house, and it can tell you a lot about where all your electricity goes. You can add devices such as the Neurio or Ecoisme to your circuit breaker so that you can monitor every power user in your home. More knowledge about where your electricity goes is a big step toward saving it.

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Go cold and wash smarter

Start washing your clothes in cold water and you'll save some cold, hard cash. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, washing clothes in cold water can save you $63 a year on your electricity bill.

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Stop standby waste

Think you're saving electricity by putting gadgets on standby? While standby saves more money than leaving electronics on, it still uses a substantial amount of electricity. According to the US Department of Energy, they account for 10 percent or more of your electricity bill. One of the best ways to nix these power wasters is by plugging them into a power strip or a smart outlet like the ConnectSense Smart Outlet or the Insteon On/Off Outlet. Just switch the strip off or use the smart switch app to turn off electricity guzzlers when you go to bed or when you're not home. Learn more about standby waste here.

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Get a programmable thermostat

Still have that thermostat that looks like it's from the 1970s? Switch it out with a programmable thermostat such as the Nest, Ecobee or Honeywell. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, switching to a programmable thermostat can save you save up to 10 percent on cooling and heating costs.

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Check your thermostat location

While you're considering a programmable thermostat, check its location. It could be on the wrong wall. Drafts, direct sunlight and other factors can trigger your AC or furnace to kick on when it doesn't need to. Here's the perfect place to put your thermostat.

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Photo by: Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Use your dishwasher

Dishwashers may use electricity, but they save more energy, money, water and time than hand washing. According to the California Energy Commission, using an Energy Star-qualified dishwasher instead of hand washing can save you, on average, 5,000 gallons of water and $40 in utility costs each year, not to mention 230 hours of your time.

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Air-dry your dishes

Opt out of the heat dry cycle on your dishwasher. Instead, open the door just a crack and let your dishes air-dry. Or, if your dishwasher has an air-dry setting, use it. The air-dry setting can reduce your dishwasher's energy use by 15 percent to 50 percent, according to the California Energy Commission.

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Get 'em clean

Of course, these dishwasher tips won't save electricity if you restart loads because the dishes just won't get clean. Here are some tips on loading your dishwasher properly so that they sparkle every time. 

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Baby your dryer

The California Energy Commission says that dryers use approximately 6 percent of a home's total electricity usage. You can help your dryer work more efficiently by keeping it clean. Always cleaning the lint trap after every load is one of the most important things you can do. Here's more on how to deep clean your dryer.

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Switch out your shower head

Switching your shower head to a 2.5 gallon-per-minute (low-flow) shower head and taking a 10-minute shower not only saves you five gallons of water per shower, it also saves you up to $145 each year in electricity, according to Energy Star.

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Upgrade your kitchen

If your kitchen appliances aren't Energy Star-certified, then maybe it's time for an upgrade. For example, an Energy Star-certified dishwasher is 12 percent more energy efficient than models that don't have the certification. 

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Upgrade your laundry room

Older appliances aren't as energy efficient as they could be, either. For example, Energy Star estimates that one average a washer over 10 years old could cost you around $210 a year.

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Old dryers waste, too

Switch out your dryer while you're getting a washer. Your old dryer could be wasting 20 percent more energy than a newer, certified model.

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Air-ducts can be an electricity sucker

The air ducts in your home could be costing you big bucks. Ducts with holes, clogs and leaks lose around 20 percent of the AC's and furnace's efficiency. Have your ducts looked at by a professional if you have any of these problems.

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