Keep cool inside your house this summer season, while trimming your bill in the process. Follow one or all of these smart Summer Energy Saving Tips:
1. Tune up your A/C. If you have central air, hire a licensed HVAC contractor to do a preseason check. He will do a routine maintenance that can prevent costly problems later. Every 2 or 3 years, have the ducts checked too. Proper sealing and insulation can cut energy use by 20 percent. Clean the filter monthly, and replace it at least every 3 months.
2. Set your thermostat. Installing a programmable thermostat can pay you back in energy savings the first year. For the most savings, about $180 a year, the EPA suggests you set the thermostat to 85 degrees when you are out, 82 degrees while you sleep and 78 degrees when you are home. You can adjust the numbers a bit, but if there is more than 10 degrees between the highest and the lowest settings you won't save any money.
3. Stop heating up the kitchen. Using your oven is the most energy-intensive way to cook a meal, and it pours heat into the kitchen as well. Instead, consider the microwave, toaster oven or slow cooker. A microwave, uses 80 percent less energy than the stove and it doesn't heat up the kitchen at all. If you do bake, use the oven light to check on food. Opening the door can lower the temperature by 25 degrees!
4. Put a ceiling fan to work. An energy efficient fan costs a few cents per hour to operate but makes the air feel 6 to 8 degrees cooler on your skin, so you can set your air conditioner higher. For every 2 degrees you will save $40 over the season. Set the fan's blades to run counterclockwise to push air down toward you (reverse them in winter to send warm air near the ceiling into the room).
5. Block incoming rays. For $20 and up per window, solar film can keep up t 70 percent of the sun's heat (and 99 percent of UV rays) out of the house without blocking the light. New technology means it's not the shiny stuff you may remember, and you can remove it come fall if you wish. Focus on the windows that get the most sun, like those that face south. You will save u to 30 percent on cooling costs, and keep your furniture from fading too! Another option---use insulating curtains or blinds, and close them during the day. For long-term savings, plant deciduous trees near south-facing windows. They will block the summer sun but let the rays in when the leaves are gone.