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Stay Cool Without Burning Up Your Wallet

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Summer is in full swing and then some, with a massive heat-wave settling over most of the country as we speak. The mercury is pushing up on 110 degrees Fahrenheit and that means one thing: as we do our best to stay cool, our A/C bills are about to skyrocket.

During the summer, air conditioning is your best friend indeed, but also a big moocher.  The good news: with the five strategies below, you can cut your energy bill without losing your cool.

1. Close the blinds

Or the heavy curtains, or whatever will block the sun while you’re away at work. By closing the blinds, especially on the south and east sides, you will keep the greenhouse effect from happening in your home. Along these lines, if you plan on being in your home for a while, it’s a good idea to plant trees on these faces of your home. Eventually, these trees will also block the sun and keep your home cooler.

2. Up the ante

If closing the curtains doesn’t seem very effective, go one step further and install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun. Solar control window films applied to existing glass in windows and doors is an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy any time air conditioning might be required. In addition to the energy management benefits, the use of these films can also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce glare, while also saving you five to 10 percent on your bills. It’s a one-time investment that, if you plan on living in the property long enough, will eventually pay for itself and then some.

3. Install a whole house fan

Unlike ceiling fans which just circulate air inside the home, a whole house fan, located in the attic, sucks heat through the ceiling. Use the fan when the temperature drops below 80 degrees. Just open your windows and let the nighttime or early morning cool air come in. Popular in southern states, these fans can dramatically reduce the temperature for comfortable evenings and sleeping while also saving you up to five percent on your energy bills.

4. Seal Your Ducts

Leaking ductwork accounts for a whopping 25 percent of cooling costs in an average home. Not only do leaky ducts seep the cool air in summer, but also the warm air in winter, while also letting in mold spores and allergens into your home. The first step is to find out if you even have a problem by having your ducts tested, which can run about $60. If leaks are found, have them sealed by a qualified contractor. This can cost around $300. This may seem like a prohibitive amout, despite the substantial savings, but many energy providers will help cover the cost through rebates and incentives. For example, Progress Energy in Florida will split the cost of both the test and the repairs with customers. Note: Duct cleaning is not the same as duct sealing. Since 2005, if you install a new central air conditioner or furnace, your ducts will have to be inspected.

5. Leave the house

My favorite energy-saving maneuver is to use other people’s air conditioning. Go to the museum, use the internet at your favorite coffee shop, watch your sports at the hot wing joint, listen to live music in the park, read a book in the library… or at the beach… or anywhere that’s not home. Heck, you could even visit your parents. It’s summertime! Enjoy the long, luxurious days of summer… somewhere else.

 

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