June 2006:
No Sweat Summer Savings

Yes, it's that season again: a time of popsicles, sprinklers, baseball ... and heat. Before this summer really starts to sizzle, know how to keep the bills – and the temperature – down.

Go AC Easy
Own an air conditioner? Tune it up before turning it on. Make sure the filter is clean too. If it's old and inefficient, shop for a new one before the mid-summer rush to avoid paying premium prices. Decrease demands on its output by running such large appliances as the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer in the evening. And never crank it up beyond the temperature you want – it won't work any faster, but it will use more energy.

Capture the Cool
To keep all that lovely cool air inside, caulk and insulate windows and doors to lessen air gaps. Keep sunlight out of the house by closing shades, blinds and curtains, and shut doors and vents to unoccupied rooms.

Start a Fan Club
When it's warmer inside than out, place freestanding fans at open windows. Also, consider installing ceiling fans. These pretty propellers use far less power than air conditioners and can save you up to 40 percent on your energy bill. Fans use about as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb and can instantly make a room feel cooler by four degrees or more.

Set Your Limits
To skim a minimum of ten percent from your energy bill, set the thermostat to as warm as is comfortable, and ten degrees higher at night than during the day. Make it easy by investing in a programmable thermostat. You can set it to rise and fall during the day and evenings, and at times when you are normally in and out.

Be Energy Efficient
Be diligent about turning off lights and other appliances when they are not in use. Refrigerators are among the top home energy users; if you have a spare one, think about unplugging it during summer months. And looking for a reason to eat ice cream for dinner? Ovens are a major contributor to heat build-up.

Get Out
During the hottest times of the day, go to the mall, supermarket, restaurant, café, library, or a movie. Free air conditioning is the ultimate in cool.

Don't let skyrocketing energy costs get you hot under the collar this summer. Apply at least a couple of these tips and you'll beat the heat – on the cheap!