You know that gut-wrenching feeling you get when opening your e-statement from the gas and electric companies?You’re crossing your fingers that this month will be cheaper than last, but as soon as the page loads, you’re forced to face the sting of those outrageously expensive energy costs again this month. When most homeowners think of ways to reduce home energy costs, they immediately turn to cutting down their heating and cooling usage – but that’s not always the answer. Sure, keeping your home a few degrees warmer in the summer and a few degrees cooler in the winter will make an impact, but it isn’t the only solution. Before you can get those pricey energy bills under control, you first must get your home appliances under control. If you follow these tips correctly, you will create an energy efficient home that will reduce your monthly home energy costs.Get TechnicalTo determine which appliances are contributing to your astronomical energy bills, invest in an affordably priced electricity usage monitor; you’ll use it to assess efficiency and measure energy consumption. You can find these handy little gadgets at your neighborhood hardware store, or online, priced between $15 and $25; this small investment makes a big difference in your future finances.Pull the Plug on Phantom AppliancesClose your eyes, and picture your home: how many gadgets and appliances are currently plugged in that are not used regularly? These are what we call “phantom appliances,” folks, and their number one hobby is raising your energy bills. Some popular phantom appliances include:Toasters & Toaster OvensComputersCable Boxes & DVR SystemsCoffee MachinesCell Phones & ChargersGo through every room in your home and unplug any phantom appliance that may be lurking around – while you’re at it, if any of those gadgets are used less than once a week, find better storage and organization solutions (i.e. if you’re not whipping up a smoothie every day, there’s no reason to clutter up your countertop with a blender).Toasters & Toaster OvensAfter your bagel pops out of the toaster and you finish using the toaster oven to melt the cheese on your sub-sandwich, unplug them! Typical toasters use between 800 and 1500 watts of power, so you can imagine just how much it is costing you to leave those unnecessary appliances plugged in when not in use.ComputersBoth desktop and laptop computers proudly take a great deal of credit for those costly energy bills. Rather than allowing your computer to idle or “sleep” after you finish using it, power it off completely. Not only is this best practice for maintaining your computer, but it can reduce your energy use by up to 250 percent!Cable Boxes & DVR SystemsEven after turning off your cable box and DVR system, they still use nearly 44 watts of energy per hour. So, if your house is vacant for about eight hours per day, about five times per week, you’re wasting a serious amount of cash on 1760 watts of unnecessary power usage. Before heading to bed, leaving for work, or even running errands, take a few seconds to unplug your entire entertainment setup – your energy bill will thank you for it!Coffee MachinesNothing says “good morning” like a piping hot cup of Joe! After you’ve had your morning cup (or pot), give your coffee maker a break and unplug it. Considering coffee makers run on 1000-2000 watts of power, there is no reason for your coffee maker to stay plugged in all day while you’re out and about; do yourself a favor, and pull the plug!Cell Phones & ChargersWe’re all guilty of leaving our cell phones plugged in, even after they’ve reached the 100 percent charged level. Even though your cell phone is not technically “charging” after this point, the device is still zapping electricity from the outlet. After you’ve fully-charged your battery, save a few bucks by unplugging both your phone and the charger from the wall.Make it Easier to UnplugIf all of this talk about unplugging your phantom appliances has left you feeling discouraged, simplify the process with power strips! Round up a few switchable power strips, and simply flip the switch to simultaneously power off a cluster of cords.