VANCOUVER -- Our homes have been working overtime for us these past few months. All those extra home-cooked meals, dishwashing, heating, higher internet use – it all adds up.

But Dan Wroclawski with Consumer Reports says there are a few small steps you can take to get your utility bills in check. 

"Adjusting your thermostat settings is actually one of the simplest and most significant things you can do to keep your energy bills under control," he says. "Lower your thermostat by a few degrees when you have the heat running and raise it a few degrees when it gets warmer and you have the AC running."

Programmable or smart thermostats can make this lifestyle change easier, like the Honeywell Home RTH8560D.

"Some other smart thermostats can actually adjust your temperature settings based on your activity and behaviour," Wroclawski says, including the Nest Thermostat E. 

"Some smart thermostats also offer wireless temperature sensors that detect motion in a room. That allows you to heat or cool a room when it’s only being used," he says.

You can also curtail costs in the kitchen. When cooking smaller meals, use a toaster oven or microwave, which costs less than heating up your big oven. To save water, instead of prolonged pre-rinsing and handwashing dishes, simply scrape off food and load it right into the dishwasher. 

"Use the quick rinse or rinse and hold cycle on your dishwasher," Worclawski recommends. "That’ll rinse all the dishes and use a lot less water than the faucet, and then you can save them up for when you have a full load to run."

And finally – limit showers to under five minutes to save water. 

With files from Consumer Reports