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The Energy Education Council offers some simple tips to boost comfort and save on electric bills during the sultriest of days:
• Make sure the air conditioner filter is clean – change or clean it monthly during the cooling season.
• Ensure air can move freely around the AC unit coils. Remove leaves and plant overgrowth that could keep it from operating efficiently.
• Use ceiling and oscillating fans to create a “wind chill” effect. The moving air makes the temperature feel cooler, and allows a higher air conditioner thermostat setting while maintaining cooling comfort. For each 1-degree increase in the thermostat setting, cooling costs can be lowered by about 3 percent.
• Avoid unnecessary trips in and out of the house, which let in hot humid air.
• Turn off lights, televisions, and computers when not in use.
• Close drapes and shades on sunny days.
• Plan to do hot work, such as washing and drying clothes, cooking and baking, during cooler morning and evening hours.
• Keep the kitchen cooler by cooking in a microwave oven, or grill outdoors.
• Make sure heat-producing appliances like televisions and lamps are away from the thermostat.
• Install a timer or programmable thermostat to increase and decrease the temperature automatically.
• Seal air leaks and cracks. Weather stripping and caulking are inexpensive ways to improve efficiency and cut energy costs year round.
• Ventilate the attic and check insulation. Adequately sized vents and/or an attic fan can help keep hot air from building up. If your attic has less than 6 to 8 inches of insulation, consider adding more. Proper attic insulation can save up to 30 percent of your cooling bill. Be sure the insulation does not block vents or cover exhaust fans.
“Several low-cost measures can yield big energy savings,” says EEC Executive Director Molly Hall. “Replace traditional light bulbs with lower wattage compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Incandescent bulbs waste 95 percent of their energy in heat; CFLs burn cooler and use only a fourth of the energy.”
Increased summer electric demands do not only place a strain on budgets, they also can place a severe strain on your home’s electrical system – a dangerous shock and fire hazard. Flickering or dimming lights, TV or computer monitors are signs of an overloaded electrical system or faulty wiring that should be checked immediately by a professional.
More information and tips to help cut costs and improve home safety is availabe at www.EnergyEdCouncil.org and www.SafeElectricity.org.