It's wise\u00a0to be conscious of your energy usage\u00a0year-round, but it's especially pertinent come fall and winter, when you'll be cooped up in the house (with the heat pumping) more often.\u00a0Here's how you can start the season off on an efficient note:\n\n1. Change your routine with your appliances.\n Washing clothes in cold water can save you up to $40 a year in water-heating costs (and yes, your clothes will still get clean). Stop pre-rinsing dishes before you load the dishwasher \u2014 really, you don't have to do it \u2014\u00a0and always run a full machine. And don't\u00a0overwork your\u00a0electric stove's small burners by using them to\u00a0heat\u00a0large pots? Pair your burners and pots by size,\u00a0and you'll keep $36 more annually.\n2. Reconsider how you heat your home.\n Heating and cooling accounts for half of your home's energy usage. Start spending less by lowering your water heater's temperature. Many are set to 140 degrees but most homes don't need water hotter than 120 degrees, and you can save $12 to $30 per year with each 10-degree reduction. Also, consider whether its time to get rid of an old water heater, furnace and air conditioner. Replacing at least 10-year-old equipment with Energy Star products can save you $115 per year.\nAlso, make sure your home is properly insulated, so heat doesn't escape easily. Light an incense stick and watch where the smoke blows to seek out drafts. Or try a thermal leak detector \u2014 the one- time cost could save you big bucks over time.\nBut easiest of all, switch to a programmable thermostat. Smarter ones, like the latest Nest 3, can automatically turn down the heat when you're out (or asleep), based on your programmed preferences,\u00a0and crank it back up during prime home time. The app-synced thermostat\u00a0can also send\u00a0alerts when something is\u00a0wrong with your heating system. Be sure to check with your energy provider \u2014 some, like Direct Energy, offer package deals that give customers new smarter thermostats for free. Switch and you could save up to 12% a year on your heating and up to 15%\u00a0on\u00a0cooling.\n\n3. Beware phantom power.\n Even when some electronics are turned off (like TVs, DVRs, and computers) they can still consume "phantom" energy if they're plugged into an outlet. This trickling of electricity can add up to $100 per year to\u00a0your energy bills.\u00a0Avoid it by unplugging your devices when you're not using them, or employ a\u00a0power strip so you can cut\u00a0the juice with a single\u00a0flip of a switch.\n4. Swap out dated\u00a0light bulbs.\n Replacing the bulbs in five of your most-used light fixtures with Energy Star-qualified lights can save you $70 each year in energy costs.