Are your utility bills monstrous? Frightening? Terrifying?

Beware of energy vampires.

No Ö Dracula did not recently wire his castle in Transylvania for electricity.

Energy vampires are devices that consume electricity even when they are powered down, and they can drain up to $200 from your wallet every year. The average home has 20 of these evil gizmos.

Electronic chargers, appliances with continuous digital displays, computers and home entertainment systems can all contribute to phantom power loss. To slay these villains, pull their plugs when they are not in use. Choose energy efficient electronics and appliances, too.

Are you feeling cold spots in your home? Are your curtains and doors moving inexplicably? Are you hearing disembodied moans? You probably wonít experience a visit from Beetlejuice (unless you say his name three times), but you may have air leaks. Inspect your doors and windows for air leaks and seal any leaks promptly. Professionally service your climate control system, and change your air filters to prepare for a more efficient heating season. Autumn is a perfect time to plan ahead for sustainable emergency heating as well.

Emulate a mummy and wrap up when temperatures fall. Or, as Imhotep would say, ďIf you canít take the heat, get out of the sarcophagus.Ē Dress for weather conditions instead of raising or lowering the thermostat. Wear light layers to adapt to the often unpredictable fall climate, and always carry appropriate gear for inclement weather.

You donít have to ride a broom to be as environmentally friendly as the Wicked Witch of the West, but you can take a cue from her (and her bicycle-riding alter ego, Mrs. Gulch) and consider alternative transportation. Walk or cycle to your destination. Carpool with your colleagues, or use mass transit options when and where they are available. Call 396.1992 for information on the Fort Bragg Shuttle.

If you follow these simple steps, you wonít have to tremble with fear every time you open your utility statement!

Visit for more information about energy conservation throughout the year.