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Cut your costs during hot weather

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  • Tips to beat the heat

    Tips to beat the heat

    Friday, June 29 2012 12:14 PM EDT2012-06-29 16:14:49 GMT
    Everyone is reminded to take precautions to stay safe and healthy. Here are some heat tips from local authorities around the area.
    Everyone is reminded to take precautions to stay safe and healthy. Here are some heat tips from local authorities around the area:

Angie's List offers ways to cut your costs during hot weather

Keeping your cool during the heat can be expensive. Electricity prices normally go up during times of extreme heat, as people do their best to beat the heat by cranking the a/c.

"You can save energy and still stay cool in your home without breaking the bank," says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. "Changing a few energy-wasting habits can cut your energy bill by as much as 40 percent." 

Angie recommends trying these tips to easily and comfortably lighten the power load in your home:

· Dialing for dollars: Each degree you go below 78 increases your energy consumption by about 8 percent. When you turn your AC on, don't set it to a colder than normal temperature, hoping to get cool fast. Just like the oven won't heat faster, your home won't cool down any faster. Instead, you will over-cool and waste energy. Don't forget the hot-water heater, either: dial it down when you're going away. Considering lowering its base temperature, as well. At 120-degrees, your shower will still be steamy, but you'll use less energy in the process.

· Stick with the program: Programmable thermostats cost between $100 and $150. They help save money by enabling you to automate your room temperature to be higher when you're not home and lower in time to be cool when you come home.

· Leaf relief: Planting shady trees around your home will naturally cool your home by standing between it and the sun. The shade will also help your AC condenser to work more efficiently.

· Open up to cool down at night: Don't open windows when the outside temperature is warmer than the inside of your house. Use ceiling fans to balance out the room's temperature.

· Service counts: Keep your air conditioning unit clean. Have a professional tune-up before the hot season starts and check the filters monthly to see if they need to be cleaned or replaced.

· Smart use: Use heat-producing appliances like clothes dryer, oven and dishwasher when it's cooler; early morning or night. Unplug home electronics when you're not using them to save on energy consumption.

· Fight leaks: Properly seal all windows, doors and ducts or you'll be cooling the outside air, too.

· Beat the heat: To keep air conditioning costs down this summer, don't place lamps, TV sets, or other heat producing appliances near your thermostat. The thermostat senses the heat causing the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

· Smart light bulbs: Security bulbs activated by motion sensors shine light when you need them, saving energy and money without sacrificing security.

· Smart appliances: When buying new air conditioners, refrigerators or windows, consider energy-efficient versions. They're usually more expensive but thanks to federal tax credits and competitive prices, the prices are falling, and because they use less energy, you save in the long-run, too.

Angie's List is where consumers turn to get the real scoop on local contractors and companies in more than 330 different categories. Currently, more than 650,000 consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie's List to help them find the right contractor or company for the job they need done. Members have unlimited access to the list via Internet or phone; receive the Angie's List magazine, which includes articles on home improvement and maintenance, consumer trends and scam alerts; and they can utilize the Angie's List complaint resolution service. Get more information and consumer tips at www.angieslist.com.Get more consumer tips at http://www.angieslisttips.com/.

COOLING YOUR HOME

Air conditioning is one of those amenities that's easy to take for granted until it goes out. If you're a/c needs repair or replacement, do it before the heat of the season hits because cooling companies will become very busy in July and August.

A nationwide Angie's List poll found 43 percent of respondents skip having their air conditioning unit serviced annually. One in 5 neglect to check or replace their air conditioning filter regularly. Without regular maintenance an air conditioner loses about 5% of its original efficiency for each year of operation. Industry experts say preventative maintenance can save you on average $100 a year.

Not only will a well maintained system run better but it will also help you save money on your monthly utility bills. Pinpointing potential problems before they arise can also protect your family from costly repairs down the road and the summer's dangerous heat.

Angie's air conditioning tips to help beat the heat:

  • Keep the filter clean: Clean and replace the air conditioner filter frequently. This is especially important during the summer when dust and allergens circulate. If the filter becomes clogged, your system will have to work harder to supply the same amount of cool air.
  • Check for leaks: Take a closer look at all hoses for any signs of leakage.
  • Free from debris: Keep plants, shrubs, and other landscaping about two to four feet away from your outdoor unit to ensure adequate airflow.
  • Made in the shade: Air conditioners with proper shading can be more efficient. Air in a shaded space is cooler than the surrounding air meaning the AC will have an easier time cooling the air before pumping it into the home.
  • Call a professional: Each central air conditioning unit should be inspected, cleaned and tuned by a professional once every two years. A professional tune-up costs between $50-$125.
  • Replace your a/c:  A great way to save is to replace an old air conditioner with a newer, more efficient model. Replacing a 15-year old unit can reduce cooling cost by at least 20 percent. When replacing your a/c, look for a properly sized unit. If you install an unit too large, it will cycle on and off, reducing the efficiency of the system. An air conditioner too small may not be able to cool your home.
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