Yampa Valley Electric Association fields as many as 1,000 customer calls a year about how to save on energy bills. And the association is happy to help, YVEA spokesman Jim Chappell said.
"We really encourage people to give us a call," Chappell said. "We even have one gentleman whose main job it is to help people save money on energy bills."
Suggestions offered include cooking with a microwave or crock pot instead of the oven, using a ceiling fan in homes with high ceilings and using timers instead of leaving items plugged in during the night.
Chappell said the association highly recommends switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent ones, which he said can cut lighting bills in half or more.
The association encourages the switch so wholeheartedly it's currently offering each YVEA customer a free compact fluorescent bulb.
"It saves us money. It saves the consumer money. And it's good for the environment," Chappell said about the bulbs and the association's giveaway.
YVEA also offers its customers free energy audits in which an association employee visits a customer's home to evaluate its appliances and efficiency.
Chappell said one major way to save on energy bills is by upgrading refrigerators.
"Models manufactured today, compared to the 1970s, use about 30 percent of the energy of the ones made in the '70s," Chappell said. "There's huge savings in refrigerators."
Wrapping a blanket around a water heater can help cut costs as well.
Below is a list compiled by McClatchy Newspapers that outlines ways to cut use and the savings associated with each suggestion.
Five free things you can do to cut energy use:
• 1. Turn the computer off when it's not in use.
Savings: About $60 per year
• 2. Adjust the heat or air conditioner when you leave the house for a few hours.
Savings: As much as 10 percent on annual heating and cooling bills
• 3. Use the microwave as often as possible.
Savings: Nuking food for a few minutes costs about a fifth of the amount it takes to cook food longer in the oven or on the stove.
• 4. Turn down the temperature on your water heater.
Savings: 3 percent to 5 percent savings for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature. Try lowering it to 120 degrees.
• 5. Unplug electronics when they're not in use - particularly cell phone chargers - and put computers and televisions on power strips that can be turned off. Televisions, cell phone chargers, stereos and other electronics suck electricity even when they're off.
Savings: 5 percent on your electricity bill.
Five cheap ways to reduce energy use:
• 1. Switch one heavily used incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent bulb.
Savings: $20 per year
• 2. Install low-flow showerheads.
Cost: $15 to $25
Savings: $25 to $65 per year
• 3. Seal windows, doors and any other openings with new caulking and weather stripping.
Cost: $100 to $300
Savings: Up to 10 percent on your heating or cooling bills
• 4. Seal other air leaks. Install foam insulation gaskets behind electricity outlet plates or light switch plates. Close the damper on the fireplace when it's not in use.
Cost: $0 to $10
Savings: Small but incremental as you seal more crevices.
• 5. Replace traditional holiday lights with LED lights.
Cost: $75 to $100
Savings: Save 90 percent on the cost of electricity for your yard display.