Today is the second annual Energy Efficiency Day, a national effort to raise awareness about energy concerns, cut energy waste, and help consumers save money on energy bills.

There’s already good news in terms of what we spend to power our home: We’re spending less. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, from 2000 to 2015 the gross domestic product in the U.S. increased by 30 percent, but energy consumption remained flat. And more directly related to our individual budgets, American consumers have saved $500 per year per household on utility bills since the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987. That's according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, an organization that works to improve energy-efficiency standards. 

“Households are saving hundreds of dollars annually as a result of increasing appliance efficiency standards,” says Shannon Baker-Branstetter, the energy and environment policy council of Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. CU is a partner in 2017’s Energy Efficiency Day. “Programs like Energy Star are helping consumers easily identify products that will result in long-term savings.”

In 2015 alone, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that energy expenditure was at its lowest point in more than a decade.

But the efficiency standards for a number of household products may be rolled back and funding for programs like Energy Star may be cut significantly. “That’s the wrong approach for consumers, who could be burdened with higher electricity bills in the future,” Baker-Branstetter adds.

More on Energy Use

Within a typical U.S. household, about 43 percent of a consumer’s energy bill goes to keeping the house warm, according to the Energy Information Administration. Another 16 percent of that bill goes to heating water for things like showers and laundry. Appliances represent the third largest energy spend, at 9 percent of the total bill; refrigerators and clothes dryers typically have the highest operating costs per year, notes Jim Nanni, Consumer Reports’ associate director of appliance testing.

“When we test for efficiency, we strive to establish a test that will provide the consumer with good comparative information,” Nanni explains. “For example, our energy efficiency for refrigerators allows the consumer to compare any type of refrigerator against another type, regardless of capacity. Our dishwasher energy test reflects energy use and cleaning performance for washing dirty dishes, because that’s actually more efficient in the long run than prerinsing dishes.”

If you’re looking to cut energy use in your home—and lower your energy bill—here are a few considerations:

Replace an Old Appliance With a Newer, More Efficient One

Thanks to tighter restrictions on energy use (and in some cases, water use), appliances today are much more efficient than their predecessors. We’ve rounded up the best energy-efficient refrigerators from CR’s tests, as well as dishwashers and washers and dryers that clean up and save energy.

For example, replacing an older toilet that uses 6 gallons with each flush with a new toilet that uses the EPA's WaterSense standards (1.6 gallons a flush) can save you $100 annually.

Make Smaller Changes Around the House

Something as simple as turning off a powerstrip of plugged-in electronic equipment when not in use can save you as much as 12 percent of your energy bill, or about $100 a year. In fact, the Department of Energy maintains a list of home improvements that lead to annual energy savings.

Keep Energy in Mind on Laundry Day

The general rule from above applies to washing machines, too. New machines that bear the Energy Star label use about 70 to 75 percent less water than agitator washers did 20 years ago, according to Energy Star.

But even if you’re not in the market for a new washer, getting smart about how you wash your clothes can go a long way. Waiting until you have a full load, ramping up the washer’s spin speed, and cleaning the dryer’s moisture sensor are a few of the expert tips we’ve collected on how to save energy while doing laundry.