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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Get Ready for Summer

Five fast fixes to make your home energy efficient in summer

Cutting energy use saves you money, which in this bad economy, is really important.

What’s more, utility rates will keep going up. In 2008, prices of natural gas, a popular fuel that is used in hundreds of power plants to generate electricity, jumped when the price for a barrel of oil topped out near $150. Utilities have been passing those cost increases on to customers.

That hurts, especially if your pay was cut or you’re out of work.

Electricity powers our air-conditioners, and air-conditioners are a big part of summertime utility bills for millions of Americans.

What to do?

Here are five sure-fire ways to reduce summertime bills:

1. Set the thermostat of your air conditioner to 78 degrees. That may sound like it’s too high, especially in some areas of the country. But keeping the thermostat to a level that delays turning on the machine is the best way to keep costs down.

2. Clean your air conditioner. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and thoroughly clean you’re A/C. Clear away leaves and other obstructions from outside condenser coils and grilles. Replace or clean filters. Make sure the fan spins freely. Oil the fan motor. Check duct insulation for tears and repair as needed.

3. Use natural cooling in mornings. Open the windows early and use the cool morning air to bring down the temperature in your home. Before the sun begins to bake the ground, however, close the windows and keep what cool air you’ve allowed into your home to stay there.

4. Shade out the sun. Draw draperies and shades, close shutters, or install awnings, solar screens, and reflective window screens to block out sunlight and heat. Even shading north windows, which are not directly affected by the sun, can help keep heat reflected from driveways, porches, and sidewalks.

5. Avoid using heat-producing appliances inside. On hot days and nights, try to not use your big heat generating appliances, such as the oven or dishwashers. Or wait until later in the evening when it is cooler. Hang your laundry outside instead of using a dryer. Cook outdoors or use the microwave.

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