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Deals That Are Nifty by Sister Thrifty: Staying Cool Makes Cents

Deals That Are Nifty by Sister Thrifty

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Staying Cool Makes Cents



Can you believe this heat?  The nation is experiencing a heat wave on the east coast and since I live in Las Vegas, I'm ALWAYS experiencing a heat wave in the summer here!  Nobody enjoys overheating in the summer, but overpaying on your cooling bills can really make you break out into a sweat. Air conditioning is often the most expensive utility in the home, and inefficient cooling can consume as much as 50% of your monthly utility bills. Making small changes to your living habits can save significant amounts of money on your cooling bills without compromising the comfort of your home.  Here are some "cool" tips from a friend of mine named Billy who loves saving money as much as I do!
  1. Use a fan to help circulate the cold air. A fan costs only 2 to 5 cents per hour to operate and can drastically improve air comfort in your home. Studies show that fans can cool a room by as much as 4 to 6 degrees. Fans can also be used simultaneously with air conditioning to circulate the cool air. If you are purchasing new fans, make sure to select energy-efficient fans which will further reduce your costs.
  2. Set your thermostat as high as possible. It goes without saying that the house needs to be cool- but it doesn't need to be an icebox. Keeping your thermostat set as high as possible (so that the house is still cool) will decrease the amount of energy needed to run the air conditioner which will directly decrease your cooling bills.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat. An easy way to save money on cooling bills is to program your thermostat so that the temperature is higher when nobody is home. Test your comfort with the thermostat at 85 degrees when you're out and 78 degrees when people are at home.
  4. Change your habits. Keeping your shades closed will keep the sun out and keep the house cooler throughout the day. Cellular shades with multiple cells are especially efficient for blocking the sun. In addition, make an effort to turn off all lights when they are not necessary, as lighting has a tendency to heat rooms, which will cause the cooling system to work harder. Consider replacing incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent bulbs which are cheaper to run and produce less heat. Finally, take care to properly vent your kitchen or open the windows when you are cooking, as extra steam or warm air from the oven will reverse the effects of your air conditioning.
  5. Creating shade outside your home is another great way to keep the house cooler. If you have a yard or garden, consider planting a shady tree near your windows. In addition to providing a lovely view from inside the home, a tree will directly protect your home from the sun.
  6. Check for leaks and poor insulation. Drafty windows will let in hot air during the summer (and cold air during the window). Similarly, inefficient insulation will prevent the cold air from staying properly in the home. Check your windows for leaks and plug up any gaps that you find with weather stripping. Invest in new insulation if yours has thinned out, as this will save you money on both heating and cooling bills.
  7. Clean your air conditioning filters. Clean air filters will create a dramatically more efficient cooling system. Make sure to check your filters at least once a month and to change them if they seem dirty.
  8. Close air conditioning vents in empty rooms. If you know that certain rooms in your home are under-utilized, close the air vents in those areas. This will enable the cool air to circulate more efficiently in rooms that are being occupied, which will cut down on cooling costs.
  9. Use an energy-efficient cooling system. If you're still using an antiquated cooling system, it may be time to update your system. After the initial investment, an energy-efficient cooling system will pay for itself, and will also be better for the environment. Consider a cooling system with an energy-saver mode, which monitors the temperature and adjusts itself whenever possible to save you money.
  10. Vent the attic. Few homeowners stop to think about how the temperature of the attic can affect the comfort of their home. In fact, an attic that is not vented properly can reach up to 150 degrees, which will slowly permeate into the rest of the house and make it more difficult to cool. At the very least, make sure that your attic is properly vented. If possible, install an attic fan to circulate the air and keep the area as cool as possible.
Stay cool!
CENTSerely,
Sister Thrifty    (a/k/a   Trina Boice)

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