Communities around the world celebrated Earth Day on April 22, highlighting the importance of keeping our planet healthy for the generations to come. Luckily, it doesn't have to be April 22 for you to honor the wonderful things the earth does for us. You can lessen your impact on the environment any day of the year. One of the best ways to do this is to make your home more energy-efficient. Let's take a look at some of the simplest changes you can enact to make your home kinder to the environment. Lower the thermostat You may like your home to feel toasty at all times, but the environment is less of a fan. The oil modern heating systems use is not a renewable resource, so the more heat you use, the more resources you suck up from the planet. When you're away from home, lower the temperature on your thermostat by just three to five degrees. This simple change will help lessen your usage and it will reduce your monthly utility bill. Since heating your home usually accounts for about 42% of your utility bill, this simple change can make a major difference in what you pay every month. If you don't have any pets at home, you could lower the thermostat further, by 10 or 15 degrees, when you leave for the house for the day. This can lessen your heat usage by 5% to 15% every year. If you're willing to put a bit more time and money into lowering your energy usage, you could invest in a smart thermostat. You can pre-set this device so that it automatically turns the heating up or down when you leave for work or go to bed at night. A smart thermostat is also helpful with controlling the air conditioning in your home in this way. Unplug electronics you don't use Even if an electrical device isn't on, it uses a small amount of electricity whenever it is plugged into an outlet. This is known as a phantom charge. Although each phantom charge is only a small amount of energy, they all add up to major electricity usage. Cell phone and battery chargers are common culprits of wasteful phantom charges. Many people leave them plugged in at all times for convenience's sake, but the average charger consumes 0.26 watts of energy when not in use. If you have a lot of chargers hanging out in their outlets, they could collectively be responsible for 10% of your energy bill. Save money and help the environment by unplugging your chargers when you're not using them. Plant shady trees and shrubs around the house By planting deciduous trees around your home, you can make your home's heating and cooling systems more efficient while also adding a little more green back into the earth. The additional landscaping can also help boost the value of your home, which may come in handy when you're trying to sell it. You'll likely be busy closing a deal on a new home, the loan process for which takes an average of 60 days when you work with a bank, and you won't have all of the time in the world to make changes to get your current home to sell. Simple, shady trees and bushes can do wonders for speeding along the sale process as well as for improving your home's energy use while you live there. During the summer, the foliage from trees and bushes will block infrared radiation that warms your house and causes your air conditioner to crank out cool air. In the winter, the bare branches of the trees will allow that same radiation to come through and warm your home when you actually need it. Remember to plant trees and bushes on the west side of the house for optimal energy-saving benefits. Whether you realize it or not, your home uses a lot of energy. Each instance of energy usage impacts the environment, which we need to maintain as well as possible for centuries to come. Try out these tips today and you'll be doing your part to minimize humankind's impact on the planet.