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Cool the house while saving money this summer

As the summer months bring the sweltering heat, many of us find ourselves reaching for the thermostat and cranking up our air conditioners, which can blow a lot of money out the door.

Air conditioners use about five percent of all the electricity produced in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This cooling option costs homeowners more than $29 billion per year in energy.

Area residents may find their bills rising with the temperatures, especially during the months of July and August according to Blue Grass Energy.

There are several ways homeowners can beat the heat without freezing their funds, such as making sure their cooling system is running efficiently by scheduling regular maintenance and changing the filter regularly. Also, avoid placing lamps or TV sets near the thermostat, which senses heat from these appliances that can cause it to run longer than necessary. Once the air conditioning is running efficiently, it saves money to minimize using it by setting it as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends 78 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re at home. A ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting by about four degrees Fahrenheit without sacrificing comfort.

Another way to avoid relying on an air conditioner is to use windows to our advantage by allowing cool air to flow into the house at night, and shutting windows and blinds to trap it in during the day.

While trying to keep the heat outside where it belongs, it’s important to not add onto it with appliances and lighting. Try to avoid using the oven on hot days. Instead, cook on the stove, use the microwave oven or enjoy the summer air by grilling outside.

Light bulbs are a small heat-producing culprit that few would suspect. Only 10 to 15 percent of the electricity consumed by incandescent lights comes out as light, the rest is converted to heat, according to The U.S. Department of Energy. Buying more energy-efficient light bulbs or turning off the lights as much as possible and taking advantage of natural sunlight, will help homeowners avoid that heat.

Cooling costs can also be minimized by only washing full loads of dishes and clothes, taking short showers instead of baths and minimizing the using other appliances that produce heat such as computers, curling irons and hair dryers.

More tips and tricks for saving energy can be found on The U.S. Department of Energy’s website at energy.gov and Blue Grass Energy’s website at bgenergy.com.