WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- When the leaves start to change, homeowners should start to think about how to keep their utility costs low.
The U.S. Department of Energy says start with the thermostat. A smart move and investment is to swap out the manual device for programmable one.
Newer thermostats allow you to program a schedule of temperature settings according to the hours you're at home.
The "set it and forget it" technology means you do not have to remember to adjust it several times a day.
Government t energy experts say you can save five to 15 percent on your bills, just dial back that temperature to 10 to 15 degrees for a eight hours a day.
You should also consider a do-it-yourself home energy audit. A simple checklist of specific energy efficient aspects of your home.
Look for air leaks, check the insulation and make sure the lightbulbs don't run up your electric bill.
Most of these projects are pretty budget-friendly. But, if money is tight, there are government programs available to help get your home ready for winter.
Bump up your savings even more when you replace an old appliance with an energy efficient one.
Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia all have programs that offer tax credits and rebates on certain items.