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Summer Housing Help - Save Money & Power

Two-thirds of American homes have air conditioners, Americans spend $29 billion every year on cooling their living space, and you can reduce cooling costs by 20 to 50 percent with a series of simple, practical steps.[1] Those three facts should be enough to convince you to start cutting your cooling costs this summer. Here's how!

It's summertime, and the heat is on. If you plan to hit the beach, that's a good thing, but if your summer plan involves a lot of time in the air-conditioned comfort of your home, you're likely to be looking at a series of budget-breaking bills. Rising temperatures inevitably mean that your house is going to get hotter, and the temptation to run the air conditioning 24/7 rises with the thermometer.

Here are some easy, practical ways to keep your summer power bills under control:

Unplug Devices and Turn Lights Off
When you leave a room, be sure to switch off your TV and all the lights, even if you're popping out for just five minutes. All of these small power saving efforts add up and can help reduce your overall bill at the end of the month.

It's also a good idea to unplug any devices that aren't in use. Many appliances draw power even when they're switched off, and because you won't necessarily know which do and which don't, it's safer just to unplug them all. Power strips with off switches make this process quick and easy.

Spend More Time Outside
Take advantage of the warmer weather and get outside more. If you've got a lovely garden, sit in it during the day and into the early evening. If you haven't, go and enjoy a local park. If you have children, make an effort to get them outside to play. Fresh air is good for your health and being out of the house means that your power bills will be lower.

Why not take advantage of the beautiful weather and have more barbecues? Barbecued food is fun and often healthier than fried alternatives, and cooking outside means you aren't unnecessarily heating your home in the process.

Just be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Dry Your Laundry Outside
Late sunsets and warm evenings mean that you can dry plenty of clothes outside during the summer. You will eliminate any power costs associated with your dryer, and keep all of that heat out of your house! The more heat spills from your dryer, the harder your air conditioner has to work to keep you cool. That work costs you money!

Some people say air-dried clothes smell fresher than those that come from a dryer. Why not hang your laundry outside to dry this summer and judge for yourself?

Close Up In the Morning
Direct sunshine can heat up a room very quickly in the summer, which is why it's a good idea to close blinds, curtains and even storm windows during the day. You'll reduce the amount of heat beaming in from the sun, but also help insulate your windows preventing cold air from escaping. Once the room warms up, you may want to open up and ventilate, but you always want to keep direct sunlight out. The sun shining through a window can heat up a room very quickly.

Close Doors and Vents
Open doors and vents can make your home cooling efforts inefficient. Cool air will escape into other rooms, such as your bathroom, guest room, and basement, causing your air conditioning system to have to work overtime to keep the temperature down in the room you're using.

You can prevent this from happening by simply closing doors and vents as necessary.

It might sound obvious, but good insulation makes a home cheaper to cool. A well-insulated home is also easier to keep warm during the winter, meaning that insulation is a win-win addition to your home. Consider insulating the gaps in between your walls, any cracks that may have appeared around your windows and doors, and adding some in your attic and crawl spaces.

You can find places where cold air is escaping. Go outside of your home and run your hand along windows and doors to see if any are leaking cold air.

If your home needs insulation, but you can't afford it, look into the Weatherization Assistance Program, a government effort to support energy-saving home improvements for low-income Americans.[2]

Use Fans
Ceiling fans are good at getting air circulating in a room, and that can help to make the temperature more manageable. In fact, the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) says that overhead fans can make a room feel up to 10 degrees cooler. Most also use just 10% of the energy consumed by air conditioning units, making them a much cheaper alternative.

Some people also prefer fans because they don't dry out your nose and throat like air conditioning systems sometimes can, leading to a build-up of mucus or an irritating cough.