Energy Star products work! We have effectively cut our energy bills by 35%. Three years ago we moved into a larger home, a 3-level split, from a small ranch. I would like to add that we now have a living room and a family room with lots more gadgets plugged in than ever before.
What products make the cut? http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_how_earn
How we did it:
We were lucky enough to purchase the home with a new Energy Star rated furnace. We have since installed the following Energy Star rated items: Refrigerator, Stove, Dishwasher, Washer, Dryer, Windows, CFLs (in almost all light fixtures, except the bathroom), Freezer and Central Air. We also installed a tankless water heater that was a huge plus. Our yearly average at the old house was $3400, it is now $2200. Yeah!
One gadget that I forgot to mention...
We just recently installed an attic fan. We went with the solar powered one which was a bit more pricey ($200 versus $100) than the electric model. (We don't have electric readily available in our attic.) The solar model is guaranteed to last for 5 years. Hopefully that extra $100 will be a wash in the electric savings of the electric model. (Not like we would ever be able to prove it but that's how I can rationalize it and hey, were saving energy.)
We saw results immediately! We have our thermostat in the upper level of our home and the air conditioning was running constantly during these past couple months of crazy heat! We noticed that the air is actually turning off! It works! Yeah!