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Here are five easy ways to minimize your energy use during the hot months:
Sun block. Half of all of the heat that enters your home comes in through the windows. Invest in a thick shade or window film to block out the summer sun. Save up to 15 percent on your cooling bill by shading west-facing windows, which absorb the most afternoon sun. For the hottest parts of your house, consider installing an awning or planting trees in front of windows to shade the house.
Quick change. A filter for your air-conditioning system costs only a few dollars (about $5 for a high-quality, pleated model) but can save you much more if you change it every month during the summer. Dirty air-conditioning filters prevent airflow and make the system work harder. That means a higher bill.
One degree. For every degree warmer that you turn up your thermostat during air-conditioning season, you’ll save up to 2 percent on your cooling costs. Try setting your thermostat at 78 degrees and turn on a ceiling fan to help circulate the air.
Wind chill. Fans don’t cool the air, but they make the air feel cooler by moving it around the room and against your skin, which creates a sort of wind chill effect. When the fan is running, you can move your thermostat 3 to 4 degrees higher without noticing a difference in your comfort level.
Cool touch. Replace every incandescent lightbulb in your house with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode lightbulbs. The replacements cost more to buy than incandescents, but CFLs use 75 percent less energy, and LEDs use less than one-tenth. Both of these energy-efficient versions pay for themselves and then some over their lifetimes. Plus, they emit far less heat than incandescent bulbs, so they don’t add heat to your home’s air or make the air conditioner work harder.