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Air conditioning gives us wonderful respite from the uncomfortable conditions of summer but this luxury does not come cheap. Running air conditioners the better part of a day can leave you in shock when your electric bill comes at the end of the month. Rising costs, coupled with a growing awareness of the importance of energy conservations, are motivating people to make serious efforts at using heating and cooling more efficiently. Here are some tips to keep costs in check over the summer.
Even just a few degrees difference in your temperature setting can mean big savings on your energy bills. When you are at home, the thermostat should be set to 78 degrees. Ideally you are shutting off your air when you are not home, but if you must leave it on, 85 degrees is sufficient to ensure you will not walk into a sweltering home. Fans can go a long way in circulating cool air around the room and will allow you to set the temperature even higher without sacrificing comfort.
Filters help keep all sorts of junk out of your cooling system. When they are dirty, old and clogged, they do not work as well. In turn, your air conditioning unit is not functioning at optimal efficiency and has to work harder to cool your home; and this extra work translates to extra energy use that will raise your utility bill. Filters should be replaced monthly for optimal performance.
Finding ways to reduce the amount of sunlight shining on and into your home can add up to significant savings. Yes, we are well aware that the sun is hot, but we do not fully realize how much it affects the temperature inside our home. Solar screens and awnings for patios are two great ways to block the sun. These screens can intercept up to 70 percent of the solar energy hitting your home, and, like regular screens, you can still open your windows. Solar control films can be placed over windows, where they will not only block out heat but reduce UV exposure and glare; these will only work if your windows are down. Some well-placed trees, shrubs and other plants can also block the sun from heating up your house. Placing plants directly in front of the air conditioner can also make a big difference, increasing its efficiency by up to 10 percent.
Leaky ducts can account for up to 25 percent of your energy costs, so if you have not had them checked lately, it would benefit you to do so. A heating and cooling specialist can check for leaks and repair the problem quickly.
A properly insulated attic is essential for optimizing any efforts at reducing your cooling costs. Not all insulation is created equal. If your current insulation is R-19 or below, consider upgrading to R-30 for maximum protection against air loss.
About the Author:Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about ways to save money and be more eco-friendly in the home.
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