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Ways to Save Energy

The summer heat in Southeast Texas is killer – not only on your A/C unit, but also on your wallet! Here are some summertime energy saving tips that will save you some money, too – and who doesn’t like that?!

• Use Energy Star appliances. Whenever you need to replace an appliance, especially a refrigerator or washing machine, look for an Energy Star product. These environmentally-friendly machines use a lot less electricity, saving you between 7 – 13% on your utility bill.

• Adjust the thermostat. This is probably the biggest thing you can do to help out with your electric bill. One degree is all it takes to make a difference and you and your family might not even notice the change. Programmable thermostats are great for people who are not at home during the day – just set the temperature up a few degrees while you’re away and then back down again about an hour before you typically return. Nest and Honeywell brands carry a slightly larger price tag than other bargain units but reviews say they are worth the money and you make it back in the long run. Also, be sure to turn your thermostat up to about 84 degrees when you go out of town for more than two days.

• Use ceiling fans. Many rooms have them but they are easily forgotten! Use a ceiling fan to help cool you off while you’re in the room, but shut it down when you leave (to save electricity). Fans work by moving the air against your skin, therefore making your body feel like the air temperature is cooler by up to eight degrees! Double-check that your fans are rotating in the correct direction – summertime rotation should be counterclockwise which pushes cool air down. (Switch to clockwise in winter to pull cool air up and push warmer air down.)

• Don’t cook in the oven. On a really hot day, running the oven or other heat-generating appliances will only make your air conditioner work harder. Try grilling dinner outside or using the microwave or gas range to cook.

• Lower your hot water heater setting. A long, hot shower isn’t usually a priority after a sweltering summer day, so adjusting the setting on your hot water heater down to 120 degrees might go unnoticed by your family members.

• Check for leaks. Inspect weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors and replace if needed. Other unexpected spots for air leaks are wall switches and electrical outlets. Remove the plate covers and feel for hot air. Home repair stores sell special insulation for these areas and they are very inexpensive and easy to install.