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    As the leaves change color and the weather gets cooler, there is no doubt that fall is here. But of course, when fall arrives, winter is not too far behind. When the temperature drops and reaches its first frost, residents and businesses can be certain that their electric bill will rise.

    To better manage rising electric bills this season, utilize these energy savings tips:

    1. Manage Idle Electronics

    Most people know about easy winter fixes such as sealing gaps around doors and windows to prevent heat from escaping. But many are unaware that their home is full of various energy-draining electronics.

    TVs, computers and other gadgets are guilty of sucking lots of energy day and night, even when not in use. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that these idle gadgets burn through more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity nationwide each year. That's about $10 billion worth of energy.

    The easiest way to stop idle electronics from driving up the electric bill is to unplug them when they are not in use. Of course, it is hard to give up the convenience of having gadgets plugged in and ready to go at a moment's notice.

    If that is the case, many companies sell power switches that can be plugged into wall outlets. The power switches enable control to the power outlet with a simple flick of a switch. Use these switches on countertop appliances like the coffeemaker and watch savings add up.

    Another great and affordable option is adapters with built-in timers. If planning to use space heaters or holiday lights this winter, using a built-in timer can shave dollars and cents off the winter electric bill. Simply set the timer for preferred hours, and whatever item is connected to the adapter will only draw electricity on the designated hours.

    2. Limit Usage During "Peak Hours"

    By changing the time of day that the oven is run or even when laundry is washed can create great savings on the electricity bill. That is because power companies change electric costs based on the time of day. It can cost 30 to 60 percent more to operate electronics during peak hours of energy usage.

    Peak hours are usually between 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 9 p.m. Weekends and holidays tend to be "off-peak." Every company defines peak hours a little bit different, so make sure to check.

    3. Switch to Energy Efficient Gadgets

    Energy efficient gadgets can save serious money in the long run. Not to mention, there are rebates available for purchasing energy efficient appliances (if qualified). Even switching something as simple as lights bulbs (from traditional to energy efficient) can save big on the energy bill.

    If interested in buying energy efficient appliances, check out the Department of Energy website. They offer tons of tips about the latest in energy-saving gadgets.

    Start Saving!

    The tips above will not only generate savings this winter, but will also maintain savings all year long. Do not stress this winter! Start the season off right by making energy efficient changes today.