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Your utility bills are likely a regular source of frustration for you. With winter coming up soon, you might be dreading your energy bills even more. The good news, though, is that there are ways to save energy — and money — when you plan appropriately for the future.

In the case of energy savings, it is encouraging to know that what you do to save the planet can also help you make a little more room in your budget. Here are 5 ways that you can save energy in your home, and keep a little more green in your wallet:

1. Get a Home Energy Audit

You can actually perform a home energy audit yourself, or pay to have someone else do this. A home energy audit can help you identify areas where energy is escaping, rather than staying to keep your home more efficient. A home energy audit can locate leaky vents and ducts, as well as catch bigger issues like insufficient insulation, or leaks around doors and windows.

2. Patch Up Leaks

After your home energy audit is complete, you can patch up the leaks. You can fix leaky ducts with sealant, and you can add more insulation. You can also get stripping to reduce air leaks around doors and windows. Another place to shore up leaks is around plugs. Get help when needed. It is worth noting that, through the end of 2010, you can get tax credits on some green home improvements. So, spend some money now to plug the energy leaks, and reap a tax benefit — and regular monthly utility savings.

3. Switch Out Your Appliances

If you have old appliances, or appliances without an EnergyStar rating, it might be worth it to switch out to appliances that are more energy efficient. You can save money on your utility bills with more efficient appliances. You can take advantage of state incentives to upgrade as well. Contact your state to find out about a cash for appliances program, or other programs. If you upgrade to an efficient home cooling or heating system, you are eligible for that green home improvement tax credit available through the end of the year.

4. Do a Daily Energy Audit

This doesn’t mean that you do an all out energy audit each day; it merely means that you should look over your home at the end of each day, before you go to bed, to see if anything is amiss. Make sure windows and doors are shut tight. Turn off your electronics, and make sure that there aren’t energy vampires slowly adding to your inefficiency. Power strips can help you cut down on this problem. Plug similar items into the power strip, so that things like your computer, printer, TV, game console and other items aren’t still drawing small amounts of energy during the night.

5. Maintain Your Appliances and Systems

You want to maintain your appliances and systems so that they remain in good working order. Properly maintained heating and cooling systems work more efficiently, and are less likely to break down. Change filters regularly (save more money in the long run with reusable filters that you can clean every couple of months), and get the scheduled maintenance. When your appliances and systems are in good working order, you save energy — and money.

Bottom line: Saving energy is an effective way to also help you save money in your home. Get ready for winter this year by making your home more energy efficient.