The only time any of us usually realize just how much we rely on energy in our homes is when the power goes out and stays out for more than a few minutes. In fact, it even puts into perspective how we often continue to overuse our appliances and electronics even when we don’t really need them.

Creating a much more energy efficient home starts with small steps that add up to make a big impact. No need to fork out thousands of dollars for a solar panel installation–all you need is a willingness to make a few sustainable changes by changing some of your habits and maybe a few extra bucks to replace certain things in your home that aren’t very energy efficient.

1. Replace regular bulbs with energy efficient bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are super affordable and are even cheaper than LEDs. They use up 75 percent less energy and lasting about 10 times longer than your average incandescent bulb.

2. Turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room. No need to leave all the lights on or the TV blaring in the background if there’s no one in there! Get into the habit of turning things off when you move from one room to another.

3. Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Did you know that certain household appliances and electronics continue to suck up energy (and your money) even when they’re turned off? These include desktop computers, laptop computers, televisions, DVD players, modems, cable boxes, cordless phones, stereo systems, radios, coffeemakers, lamps, toasters and any gadgets that get their power from a plug-in transformer. Once you turn them off, consider pulling the plug out of the socket too.

4. Skip the dryer by hanging clothes up to dry instead. In the spring and summer, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to resist throwing a load of wet laundry in the dryer if you’ve got enough room in the yard for a dryer rack to hang your clothes. And even if you don’t have much of a yard to do that, you could easily set one up inside your laundry room or bathroom.

5. Get a low-flow shower head for your shower. Swapping your shower head for a more energy efficient one can help you save on water heating costs and water usage. Try combining this with taking shorter showers and you’ll be all set!

6. Install energy efficient ceiling fans. You can get one of these for as little as $30 to help regulate temperature and air circulation. When the weather is cool, run the fan in a clockwise direction to push the warmer air down, and during warm weather, switch it to run counterclockwise to help your home feel cooler. Energy Star has a list of the most efficient ceiling fans here.

7. Use permanent weather stripping around windows and doors. If brand new windows and doors aren’t in the budget, permanent weather stripping can make a big difference in sealing in the heat and keeping gusty drafts out during colder months. The stuff is also cheap enough that you can go ahead and line every window and doorway in your home with it.

Stick to these easy tips, and you’ll be right on your way to reducing your carbon footprint!