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Reduce your summer energy costs

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© iStockphoto.com / Kameleon © iStockphoto.com / Kameleon

By Chanti Burnette



Everyone loves to enjoy the long, warm days of summer, but along with the pool parties and sunburn comes high utility bills. Try these ten straightforward tips to outsmart your gas and electric company, and stay cool during the warm months.

Use Fans to Save Energy Costs and Stay Cool

This tip is an oldie, but a goodie. Oftentimes, we overlook the fact that were are paying to keep our whole house cool with our air conditioner, yet we only spend time in a few, isolated rooms. It doesn't make sense to cool your guest bedroom and your home office if you spend all of your time in the family room and kitchen. Buy a couple of energy efficient fans for your busiest rooms. Most fans qualify as energy efficient, and with new advances in green technology, you won't be sacrificing airflow. Only keep them running when the rooms are occupied to save even more cash.

Air-dry Towels to Reduce Summer Energy Costs

Chances are, you're doing a lot of laundry in the summertime. Both kids and adults love to lounge at the beach and in the pool when the temperatures skyrocket, but it leads to stacks of dirty towels. Since towels dry quickly and naturally, hang them to dry after washing to bypass your dryer and save money.

Create Some Shade for the Summer

Hopefully, you will be taking advantage of the fact that it's finally warm enough to spend time outside. Summer is the best time for barbeques and backyard parties, but it's important to stay cool when you're grilling hotdogs and sipping lemonade. A large awning or patio cover is an investment worth making. It may seem expensive at first, but it's a small price to pay for your outdoor comfort. It will also help you save money on indoor cooling. By keeping your patio shaded, you limit the amount of sunlight that is able to seep in through your windows, which lowers the overall temperature inside your house.

Plant Your Summer Shade

As mentioned before, it's important to keep the outside of your house shady because it affects the amount of heat you're letting into your home. Try planting trees on the side of your house where the sun rises. Not only will it prevent you from waking up at the crack of dawn, but it will also keep your house temperate.

Microwaves and Grills

A microwave oven uses about 65 percent less energy than a stove. It also generates less heat, which lets you ease up on your air conditioning. A grill uses roughly the same amount of energy as an oven, but it will not warm up your house, allowing you to save on cooling costs once again. If you must use your oven, use it earlier in the day when the temperature is still mild.

Get Out of the House

Let someone else pay for the air conditioning. Turn off all your fans and cooling units, and plan a day trip. You don't have to pay anything, just go to the mall and window shop, or throw down a few bucks to see that summer blockbuster. Movie theaters are notoriously chilly, and therefore a great resource when the temperature rises.

Seal Your Home

It is incredible how much heat will creep in through cracks in doors, windows and air ducts. Luckily, this is an easy and inexpensive problem to fix. Run a quick check of your windows and doors and identify any cracks. Seal vulnerable areas with caulk, which runs for about $2 for every 10 ounces. Better yet, weather-strip your house by adding a layer of weather-stripping material to the bottom of your doors and windows. This economical option will prevent the heat from getting in, and the cold from getting out. As a bonus, it will also hold your heat in during the winter and prevent drafts around the house. There are various kinds of weather-stripping materials. Vinyl works well, but is often visible. Explore the different options available online or at your hardware store to find out which material is best for you.

Check Your Air Conditioner's Filter

You probably need to change the filter in your air conditioner. Really, you probably do. Most people do. It's an often neglected household task that could actually be costing you a lot of money. The same way maintaining your car ensures better gas mileage, changing your filter ensures you get the most out of your air conditioner. Most filters need to be changed every one to six months, but it varies by unit. Changing your filter could save about 15 percent on cooling bills.

Close the Shades During the Day

Your windows are like big magnifying glasses that let the sun into your home. Unless you have non-reflective coating or tint on your windows, you're likely turning your house into a sauna without even realizing it. In fact, about 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through your windows. To seriously save on cooling costs, draw your blinds and close your drapes during the day.

Use the Fan Function

It's a little known secret, but your air conditioner is probably also a fan. Most units have a fan function, which circulates the air instead of cooling it. It still keeps your house pretty cold, and it's a great option for the slightly more temperate days of summer. If you don't know how to activate this function, consult your manual or call the manufacturer. 

This article was originally posted on IdealHomeGarden.com

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