FARMINGTON, Mo.– Renters as well as homeowners can save money by using less energy at home.

A lot of simple practices can cut renters’ energy costs every month, says Rebecca Blocker, University of Missouri Extension housing and environmental design specialist.

One practice is to minimize “vampire” energy.

“It’s the energy that is used for small appliances such as your television, computer and stereo that are drawing power even when you are not using them,” Blocker says. “It is surprising how much energy is used as vampire energy.”

A power strip can cut off electricity to several appliances with just one switch. “Smart” power strips automatically cut off energy vampires by detecting when devices such as computers go into standby mode. Some models also use timers or motion sensors to regulate when to turn power on or off.

Blocker says reversing the blades of ceiling fans during the winter keeps the heated air circulating slowly through the room so it doesn’t all end up near the ceiling.

Programmable thermostats, which can be set to lower the temperature while you are sleeping or are away from home, are much more affordable than they used to be.

“The cost has come down significantly in the last few years,” Blocker says. “You can get a new thermostat for about $35 and it could save you up to $150 a year on your energy costs.”

Heating water can account for as much as 25 percent of home energy use, Blocker notes. You can realize significant savings by lowering the temperature on your water heater, washing clothes in cold water and installing a low-flow shower head.

“A low-flow shower head can actually save you money in two ways,” she says. “You save energy by having to heat less water, and they also save you money by using 25 to 60 percent less water.”

Opening drapes, blinds or curtains on winter days and closing them on summer days will reduce the amount of energy your heating and cooling system needs to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

“A few very simple things can make a big difference,” Blocker says. “They all add up.”

For more information from MU Extension on home energy efficiency, go to or contact your local MU Extension center.