I wrote about "energy vampires" a couple years back, but as the new year approaches, it's probably a good time to ponder again ways to cut utility bills.

These vampires include cellphone chargers, computer monitors, printers, video games, and cable boxes.

According to Suzanne Jones of the Association of Energy Services Professionals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average household spends about $100 per year to keep power immediately available to devices not being actively used.

Nationally, that accounts for more than $10 billion in energy that is wasted.

Jones offers some suggestions for driving stakes through the hearts of such vampires:

Use smart power strips to reduce the flow of electricity to devices that are not being actively used.

Replace incandescent bulbs with LED lightbulbs that last for years.

Get a smart shower head that senses when the water is hot and stops the flow until you are ready to get in.

Plug your devices into a new type of outlet that allows you to program and monitor their use remotely.

Check your water-heater savings, quickly and easily. A simple reduction of 10 degrees could save you as much as $10 a month.

Use a smart thermostat and learn to program it.

"These are not expensive solutions," Jones said.

"We estimate that by spending about $500 on energy-efficiency devices that are easy to buy, install, and use, that more than $1,800 per year in energy savings can be generated."

Obviously, this isn't a complete list of everything you can do to reduce energy use in your house, and you may have other ideas that you would be willing to share.

I'm not sure that the projected savings offered by Jones' group would be what everyone would realize. Certainly, there will be those among you who have issues with LED lighting, water heaters, water-saving shower heads, and programmable thermostats.

To share your ideas with Jones and other energy professionals, go to www.aesp.org.