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energy wise ■


BY JOHN DRAKE COOPERATIVE ENERGY ADVISOR


t’s summertime, folks, and you know what that means. Your air conditioner is running and the heat and humidity combined are going to contribute to higher bills. That said, you can take measures to curb that usage without sacrificing comfort. I may be repeating myself, but now is the time to make your home and your habits more energy efficient.


I Beat the Heat


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) studies show that air conditioning accounts for as much as 50 percent of the average household electric bill. Proper maintenance and smart use of your home’s cooling system will help keep your electric bill in check.


First, make sure your air conditioner’s external unit is clean and free of debris. Clear away dead leaves or overgrown plants and weeds to enable the unit to perform as it should.


Second, change all of the air filters inside your home quarterly; more often in homes with allergy sufferers or smokers. Fresh filters will reduce the strain on your cooling system, and improve the air quality in your home.


Third, the DOE recommends that you set your home’s thermostat as high as possible, while still maintaining a comfortable environment for your family during the summer months. For each degree you adjust your thermostat you will see a three percent increase or decrease


Made in the Shade COOL KEEP YOUR


Curb high summer AC bills without sacrificing comfort


Yes, windows are wonderful, but they’re also a tremendous source of heat during the summer. Cover them with curtains, blinds, and shades to shield the sun and help your home stay cool. Weather stripping and caulking around window panels and casings will help keep the cool air in and the hot air out. Solar film, available at Wal Mart and other stores, is another easy, low cost solution.


Daily Grind


Today’s appliances are more energy efficient but most major household appliances give off heat when in use. During peak daytime temperatures, the residual heat from appliances places an unnecessary strain on your home’s cooling system. Help your AC out by running the dishwasher or washing and drying clothes in the early morning or late evening when the outside temperature is cooler, and turn off your dishwasher’s dryer cycle. This prevents even more heat from warming your home. Washing your clothes in cold water and hanging them out to dry are other ways to lower your household energy consumption.


in heating or cooling costs. If you haven’t already done so, invest in a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the setting so your cooling system runs more often when you are at home and less often when you are away.


These suggestions may seem piddly but there’s no one solution when it comes to energy savings. It takes many small changes in behavior to make a difference. For some people, these changes come easy; others have to work at it. What’s most important is that you remain aware of how and when you use electricity.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY Tip of the Month


When replacing incandescent bulbs from recessed light fixtures, use energy-efficient bulbs that are rated for that purpose. For example, the heat buildup in downlights will significantly shorten the life of spiral CFLs.


Source: Department of Energy


As the summer heats up, remember to take advantage of your co-op’s resources. Call me to schedule a free home energy audit, or talk to us about how you can lower your energy use. You’ll also find helpful information at TogetherWeSave. com. Remember, all the little changes will add up to improved energy savings. ■


John Drake is CEC’s energy use specialist. For questions about your home’s energy usage or to schedule a free home energy audit, please contact Drake at 800-780-6486, ext. 233.


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