Many people think they have to go big to go green and save energy in their home. But you don't have to install an array of solar panels or buy all new energy-efficient appliances to find big savings on your energy bills. There are plenty of small investments you can make that will result in remarkable and long-term energy savings. Are you ready to save hundreds of dollars a year? Try these five tips to start saving today!

Change out your light bulbs to energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.

Incandescent bulbs are cheap to buy but expensive to operate. Ninety percent of their energy use produces heat, not light. Replacing just one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb can save you about $10 a year. How many bulbs do you have in your house? Now multiply that by $10 and add up the savings.

Turn down your hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

This one doesn't take any investment of money and only about 1 minute of time. Lowering the heat from 140 to 120 saves 6-10% in heating costs with no difference in comfortable hot showers or the even cleanliness of your dishes since many dishwashers have a hot water booster for sterilization. Also, 120 degrees is the recommended temperature if you have small children in the house to prevent scalding.

Caulk around windows and doors to seal cracks.

More of your energy bill – almost half, in fact – is spent on heating and cooling your home than on anything else. So it certainly pays to make sure that warm or cool air is staying inside your home. One simple way to do this is to make sure your windows and doors are tightly sealed. A couple of hours spent with a caulking gun can save you 5-10 percent on your energy bills.

Install a programmable thermostat.

Many people set their thermostat once and forget about it until they happen to get hot or cold and decide to fiddle with it. You may set your thermostat one chilly winter morning to 68 degrees then leave it there all day – even though the house is empty and no one is there to enjoy the toasty warmth. Installing a programmable thermostat is pretty simple, as is setting it up. You can have different settings for weekdays, to accommodate when you're home and when you're away, as well as weekends when your schedule may be different. Making this switch can save as much as $180 a year.

Stop vampire energy.

Energy suckers – devices that continue to draw power even when they're turned off – can account for 20 percent of your electric bill. Anything with a standby light that remains on all the time is drawing electricity and costing you money. Also, devices with large plugs, such as cellphone chargers, and "bricks" in the middle of the power cord, such as laptops, require energy when they're not being used. Unplug these cords and devices when they are not in use. Alternatively, plug them into a power strip so you can easily turn them completely off with one switch.

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