It can be a real challenge to lower your energy bills to the cost you desire without having to change your style of living. For example, during the dog days of summer it may seem impossible to turn down the air conditioning, even if you're aware that you're wracking up a large bill. Of course, today the amount of energy we consume is only compounded by all the electronics we use throughout each day. Don't let your energy bills become a source of financial distress, here are five tips for saving on energy costs:

1. Open and clean your vents: In many cases vents throughout your apartment or home that provide heating and cooling may be closed without you even realizing it. Closed vents don't actually conserve any energy, and when vent filters get dirty they can block the vent from releasing proper airflow. Cleaning your vents regularly and changing the filters will optimize airflow and can therefore help reduce costs. So rather than continuing to crank up the heat or air conditioning and hope for the best, make sure your vents are working properly.

2. Know your refrigerator: The fridge is one of the few appliances in your home that must always be running. It's necessary to keep your food at a safe temperature, so don't unplug the fridge unless you're cleaning it out or moving it. However, people generally don't think about small maintenance projects that can make their refrigerators run more efficiently. Keep your freezer stocked, as this will actually use up less energy than if it's relatively bare. Make sure the door seals aren't allowing cold air to leak from the appliance and replace them when necessary. Dust the coils behind your fridge, as keeping this part of your fridge clean will ensure it is running efficiently.

3. Use power strips: It can be a pain to plug and unplug all of your appliances every time you use them. For example, plugging and unplugging the television, DVD player, receiver, speakers and subwoofer would be a major inconvenience if you simply want to enjoy a movie at home. Instead, plug your devices into a power strip that can easily be flipped on and off after each usage. This will help you save on the energy cost of appliances when they're not in use.

4. Unplug other devices: You might move your laptop and cellphone chargers around throughout the day depending on where you want to recharge your devices. Whenever you are done charging a laptop, cellphone, tablet or other electronics, make sure to unplug the charger from the wall. Chargers often continue to draw energy even if a device is not connected to them.

5. Know your energy habits: To help reduce energy costs, consider bad habits to which you are prone. For example, you may be a culprit of leaving lights on when you leave the house. Rather than just hope that you remember, make a note for yourself by the door so that you are regularly reminded before you leave the apartment. It's also good to note which lights you use most often throughout each day. If your living room light is pretty much always on, make sure that you're using an energy efficient bulb for that location. Moreover, make sure that the bulb is the correct variation for a specific outlet. Turn lights off when leaving each room, even if you think you may return to the room later.