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  1. You don't have to pay huge utility bills in the dog days of summer. Try these few smart solutions below to reduce water and energy consumption. You'll save money and help the environment at the same time.
  2. Use wash water from fruits and vegetables or the first run of cold water―when bathing or showering―to water indoor or outdoor plants.
  3. Replace major appliances that are more than 10 years old. Use the energy efficiency information on the yellow EnergyGuide labels as a shopping guide. Choose ENERGY STAR-certified appliances, which reduce the average household's energy expenses by 30 percent. Visit www.energystar.gov for a list of products.
  4. Find out if your utility money is going out the window or down the drain. Take a free home-energy audit at the Home Energy Saver site (http://hes.lbl.gov/hes/vh.shtml) just by inputting your ZIP code and basic information about your home. The audit will show you the best ways to save energy in your home and provide resources to make the savings happen, with recommendations on heating, cooling, major appliances, lighting and remodeling.