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How to Stay Cool
The average family spends $1,900 a year on energy bills, with nearly half going toward heating and air conditioning. Here's how to save up to 20 percent on annual energy costs.
by Jenny Stanley

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The average family spends $1,900 a year on energy bills, with nearly half going toward heating and air conditioning. Here's how to save up to 20 percent on annual energy costs.

Find and seal air leaks that cause drafts and make your cooling system work overtime. Seal air leaks, add insulation and choose quality windows when replacing windows. Home sealing can help you save up to 10 percent on your energy bills each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Look for the ENERGY STAR when purchasing cooling products for your home. You can find the ENERGY STAR on products in more than 50 product categories, including heating and cooling equipment, lighting, consumer electronics and appliances. When you choose ENERGY STAR, you get a product that meets strict energy-efficiency criteria set by EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Schedule annual, pre-season maintenance checkups with a licensed contractor to ensure your cooling system is operating efficiently and safely. Dirt and neglect are the leading causes of system failure. Get a cooling system checkup, and be sure to clean or change your system's air filter according to the filter's instructions - generally once a month. Keep it clean to keep it efficient.

Install a programmable thermostat and use your ceiling fans wisely. Save energy by taking advantage of periods in the day when your home doesn't need to be kept as cool. A programmable thermostat, set and used properly, can save up to $150 in energy costs each year. Ceiling fans can also cut home energy use. Turn the thermostat up several degrees while using the fans to deliver the extra cooling comfort.

Learn what else you can do to make your home more energy-efficient by visiting ENERGY STAR @ home. The average home can generate twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as the average car. Learning how energy is used in your home is an important step toward cutting energy costs, improving your home's energy efficiency and protecting the environment. ENERGY STAR @ home (www.energystar.gov/home) is an interactive tool that takes you on a room-by-room tour and offers energy-saving tips and advice for your home.


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