Slim and trim: New Year's resolution made easy

They say abs are made in the kitchen. Ironically, your utility bill tends to bulk up there, too.

With 2013 drawing to an end, thoughts turn to compiling a list of New Year’s resolutions. If you are like many in America, you may be aiming to lose weight, eat healthy and save money – some of the most consistently popular New Year’s resolutions.

Start your resolution process by paying attention to the habits you have built in your kitchen. There are a few surprisingly easy changes you can make in your kitchen alone that could have a lasting impact on your overall health and energy use. If you do, you may see more than just your waistline shrink!  

Running and pumping iron are great ways to get in shape; however, when it comes to continually running energy or pumping electricity through unused appliances such as your toaster or coffee maker, constant activity is only fattening your utility bill and trimming your wallet.

Instead, make an effort to turn off lights when you are not in the room and unplug your kitchen appliances when not in use.

For those of you wanting to eat healthier, it’s easier to avoid temptations if you stock your fridge full of fruits and vegetables. Replacing vacant space with nutritious food not only urges you to snack on healthy alternatives, it keeps the cold temperatures inside the fridge. Limiting the amount of energy your fridge uses means more money in your pocket.

Along with eating healthy, remember to drink plenty of water to maintain your own energy level. However, if your fridge has a water and ice dispenser, consider using it as little as possible. These features may be handy, but cold air leaks from their openings and forces your compressor to work harder. Keep a pitcher of water and an ice tray inside the fridge and freezer as efficient alternatives. 

And if possible, consider investing those extra savings in new, ENERGY STAR-certified appliances. These products use less energy without sacrificing quality or performance.

Consider this: If your refrigerator was made before 1993, it uses almost twice the amount of energy that newer models consume. ENERGY STAR models use roughly 20 percent less energy than federal standards require. This can add up to hundreds of dollars over the lifespan of your fridge.

The same goes for dishwashers. Those made before 1994 cost you about $40 more per year and an average of 1,300 gallons of water throughout its lifetime. This means, if you replaced your dishwasher with an ENERGY STAR model, you would be able to pay for all your dishwasher detergent for the whole year with the money you would save on your utility bill.

This goes to show little changes really can have a big impact.