There are simple ways to save big bucks on home energy bills.

The temperatures are dropping and BC Hydro says your heating bill rises about five percent for every degree the thermostat goes above 20. Many families in Metro Vancouver spend thousands of dollars per year on home utility bills.

But Consumer Reports says that you can cut your costs by finding and fixing your home’s problem areas.

“Most important is your heating and cooling systems, which are responsible for roughly half of your home’s energy use,” says Dan DiClerico from Consumer Reports.

Make sure your ductwork is properly sealed and insulated. Add extra insulation to your attic and plug drafty windows with caulk or weather stripping.

Another important step is upgrading your thermostat. A programmable model can trim your energy bill by automatically reducing your heating and cooling when you need it the least.

Old and inefficient appliances can also really draw the power. Swapping out a 15-year-old refrigerator for an energy-efficient one could save you more than $60 dollars per year. And if your electric water heater is more than 10 years old, consider an upgrade to a heat pump-style water heater.

“Another easy way to save: Switch to LED blubs, which use 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lighting,” says DiClerico

If you want to hire someone to do an energy audit on your home, Consumer Reports warns you to be wary of companies advertising free or low cost audits. They can be scams.

Natural Resources Canada has a list of auditors that are licensed. Find more information here.