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Helpful tips to save on energy this summer

With average July temperatures around the United States being as high as 90 or more degrees, it's well worth your time to find new ways to save on your energy bill this summer. As we all know, reducing energy consumption is critical to keeping your monthly bill as low as possible, and who wouldn't want that? Everyone wants to learn how to save money. There are tons of summer energy saving tips out there, but we've done our research and compiled what we think are the easiest and most cost effective actions to take to reduce your energy consumption this summer.

Keep your blinds closed
An easy rule to remember is that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. These are the two directions where your home needs the most effective shading and window blinds. Keep blinds closed during the day and double them up if at all possible. "Did you know that installing blinds can reduce heat gain by up to 45% in the summer? Drapes or curtains can reduce heat loss in the winter by up to 10%, and heat gain in the summer by up to 33% (source)." Installing blinds and keeping them closed can save you money on energy all year round. Want to stay even cooler? Save heat-generating chores like dishwashing and laundry until after the sun goes down.

Turn your fans on
In my opinion, one of the most over-looked energy saving tips is proper use of fans in your home. Do they create cool air? No. But do they generate air flow and help with proper ventilation? Yes. You'll get the most out of ceiling fans in the spring and fall when you're not dependent on the fan and your central air unit. You can sometimes use the fans to keep comfortable instead of turning on the air conditioner. And because fans will consumer less energy than your air conditioner you will save a few bucks. One of the better kept secrets are to run your fans counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. This will create a subtle breeze downwards. In the winter though, reverse the motor and operate it at a low speed in the clockwise direction. This will produce a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling downward towards you. Check out more cool tips to prepare your home for the winter.

Be smarter with your air-conditioning
The number one rule in learning how to save power is to not air condition rooms that aren't being used. Also, since it's more costly to run your air conditioner for every degree cooler you set it, you should either remember to set it higher during the day when you're not home or purchase a programmable thermostat. It's estimated that setting your thermostat to 75 degrees is about 18% more costly than setting it to 78. It's also estimated that normal dust build-up on air conditioner filters can amount to a 1 percent decrease in efficiency each week, so change them as recommended by the manufacturer.

Don't waste electricity
Did you know that not unplugging unused electronics in your home costs you money? It's true. Even if your television is turned off or your phone isn't plugged into the charger, those appliances still draw electricity. This sneaky money drainer is called phantom energy. It's estimated that it accounts for about 5% of your monthly energy bill. To stop losing money on unused devices, either unplug these items until you actually need to use them or you can operate them off of an advanced power strip which helps reduce lost energy. Also, don't forget to put your computer monitor to "sleep" mode when not in use if you choose not to turn it off completely. Those pretty desktop programs that run add to your energy bill, you know.

Lastly, since artificial lighting is responsible for roughly 15% of a home's electricity, you should consider a few alternatives. Put lights (especially those outdoors) on timers, make use of candles, take advantage of natural sunlight, or leave lights off altogether. Personally, I prefer a couple of candles and my television on after the sun goes down. That gives me more than enough light and saves me money.

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