Statewide—If saving money made your New Year’s resolution list, start by cutting your energy use, to save money year-round. With some simple lifestyle tweaks, you can trim your energy usage and help keep your 2020 budget in check.Here are ways to monitor and cut your energy use this winter and also avoid billing surprises:7 ways to cut your energy costsReduce your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specifically designed for use with heat pumps.Leave drapes or blinds open during sunny winter days to allow the sun to warm the house. Close them at night to help insulate your home.Have the heating and air conditioning system checked regularly to maintain performance. Duke Energy offers qualified customers rebates to help offset the cost of replacing older HVAC units with more energy-efficient ones.Replace standard incandescent bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LED). LEDs are more efficient while giving off the same amount of light.Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air back down into the room.Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, which uses more energy.Set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees to help you reduce your monthly water heating bills.5 tips to help manage and understand your billsCheck the number of days in your billing cycle. Most bills are for 30 days, but there are times when the billing cycle is shorter or longer. If there are more days in the bill, your bill total could be higher.Look at “average kilowatt-hour” (kWh) use per day. At first glance, your bill may look higher, but if your average use is similar to the same time last year or in a month with similar extreme temperatures, it’s a normal bill.If you have a smart meter, check online to see if a daily usage analysis tool is available. Smart meters collect usage information by the hour, so checking spikes throughout the month – by day and even hour – can show what appliances and behaviors are increasing your bill.Customers without a smart meter can receive high bill alerts when hotter or colder weather may be causing your bill to trend higher than last month. We send these alerts before you receive your bill – so you can take steps to lower your usage before your bill comes.Customers can also use the Duke Energy app to access and manage your account, making it easier to stay on top of your energy usage and bills. You can also take advantage of our energy- and money-saving products and services.For more information on simple ways to avoid energy bill surprises this winter, click here.