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Keep Cool in Summer – 10 Thifty Ways

Enjoy summer comfort minus big energy bills.

When the temperatures soar, don’t let your electric bill soar with it. Here are some money saving ways to keep your home cool and comfortable this summer, whether you have air conditioning or not.

1. Choose energy-efficient settings for your AC. Set the thermostat as high as is comfortable for you. An energy-efficient range is 75 to 78 degrees. To save more energy, you can raise the temperature about 4 degrees at bedtime and about 8 degrees when you’re away from home for more than two hours.

2. Try fans instead. If outside temperatures are just warm and not really sweltering, you might try fans instead of turning on the air conditioning. Here are some numbers to help put it in perspective: If you run a portable air conditioner for eight hours a day for a month, it adds about $35 to an electric bill. In comparison, a small portable fan would add less than $2. Or use fans in combination with your air conditioning, raising the thermostat setting to 80 degrees.

3. Use fans smartly. Operate fans only in occupied rooms because fans cool people, not rooms. The exception is a box fan, which you can use to circulate the air. Place one on the north side or shady side of your house (upstairs if you have a multi-level home) to draw in cool air, and place another box fan on the opposite side of the house to expel hot air.

4. Set your room air conditioner and then leave it alone. To keep a room air conditioner running most efficiently, don’t switch it on and off frequently. They work best when left to run for longer periods. Also keep in mind, you’ll waste a lot of energy if you try to cool your whole house with a room air conditioner.

5. Take advantage of natural cooling. In many areas, even on really hot days, temperatures often cool down overnight. Turn off air conditioning and open windows to catch cool breezes at night and early morning. Keep safety in mind though. Leaving ground-floor windows open can invite prowlers.

6. Dress for the weather. Wear lightweight, loose clothing to help you keep cool.

7. Avoid the stove. Heating up the stove or oven heats up your home. Instead, use the microwave, grill outdoors or opt for cool, no-cook meals like sandwiches and salads.

8. Wash later. Your dishwasher, washer and dryer all give off heat when they are operating, which makes your home warmer and makes air conditioning work harder. Wait to do laundry and dishes until cooler evening hours.

9. Close the curtains. On hot days, close the curtains or shades to block the sun. The curtain acts like a simple layer of insulation to help limit heat build-up in your house. This is a good idea even if you have air conditioning, because then the AC doesn’t have to work as hard.

10. Switch to ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent lights. You know why incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient? Because they waste a lot of energy in the form of heat. Think about it: If you hold your hand near an incandescent light bulb, it feels pretty hot, doesn’t it? Then think about the number of light bulbs in your house, all churning out extra heat. No thanks! CFLs are about 75 percent more energy efficient, so they’re much cooler. Change out the lights that are on most often, like in your kitchen or family room. CFLs are much more affordable than they were several years ago, but if your budget just doesn’t allow you to make the switch now, you can still help save energy and keep your house cooler by turning off lights when they’re not needed. LED lighting could be a viable alternative to CFLs for some applications such as task lights, under-cabinet fixtures, porch lights and recessed can lights, especially those used for dimming.

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