This October, the Marine Corps and its families are celebrating Energy Action Month, a federal program that promotes energy and water efficient behavior. This month is the perfect time to develop new energy habits that you can practice year-round. Here are five easy ways to start saving energy and money today:

1. Use a combination of blinds, curtains and ceiling fans to help control the temperature of a room.

During the summer, close blinds and curtains when the sun is shining in to help keep your home cool. In the winter, leave your windows exposed to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. This will reduce the amount of energy your heater or air conditioner will need to use to keep you comfortable. Ceiling fans rotating counter-clockwise in the summer can also make you feel three to four degrees cooler – just remember to turn them off when you leave the room as fans only cool people, not rooms. 

2. Save water and electricity by washing your dishes more efficiently. 

Most of the energy needed to run your dishwasher is used by its heating element. Save energy by turning off the heated dry cycle, allowing your dishes to air dry. Stop rinsing your money down the drain by pre-soaking or rinsing your dishes – simply scrape off the leftover food before placing your dishes in the dishwasher. If you need a certain dish now but your dishwasher isn’t full, don’t run the load, just hand wash – but be sure to only run water when rinsing. Running half-full dishwashers is a waste of water and electricity.

3. Ensure windows and doors are closed when using heat or A/C – and that they aren’t leaking. 

Heating and cooling uses the most energy of any system in your home, and it’s the most expensive – about half of your utility bill. When you are using heat or air conditioning, make sure all of your windows and doors are closed so that the treated air doesn’t flow out, taking your money with it. Check all windows and doors for possible leaks by feeling for drafts. If a leak is detected, it can most likely be sealed – contact your appropriate housing maintenance personnel.

4. Wash your clothes only when there is a full load, and always use cold or warm water. 

Washing clothes in cold or warm water with a cold-water detergent uses half as much energy as washing them in hot water. You can also easily save energy by only running your washer when you have a full load of laundry, or by air-drying small loads on a drying rack in place of your dryer. Not only will you save energy, but you will also reduce the wear and tear on your clothes.

5. Replace traditional incandescent lightbulbs with light emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) .

How many Marines does it take to change a lightbulb? We’re guessing just one – but that’s not what’s important. On average, LEDs last about 25 times as long as incandescent lightbulbs while using less than a quarter of the energy to produce the same amount of light. Your next most efficient option is a CFL – they also use much less energy than traditional lightbulbs, pay for themselves in nine months, and last about 10 times as long. Head to your local MCX to pick up new bulbs.

Now that you’ve reduced your energy bill, why not tackle other areas of your budget? The Personal Financial Management Program offers workshops and seminars on more than twenty money management topics. To contact your local Personal Financial Management Program office and find a workshop near you, click here.