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Also see:25 cheap ways to keep your house cooler, and Senior Utility Tips for many more suggestions

               Save Energy, Money and the Environment

Quick Tips

This checklist will help you keep your home's temperature -- and your electric bill -- comfortably low all summer long.

1) Know your numbers. If you have central air conditioning, set your thermostat to 78F or more during the summer, 85F or more when you leave your home for more than four hours. Unless you have furniture, art or equipment that could be damaged by excessive heat, turn your cooling unit off when you leave your home for more than 24 hours.
   
2) Don't overcool. Don't turn your thermostat lower than normal to cool your home faster. It won't work.
   
3) Keep heat-producing appliances away from your thermostat. Heat emitted by television sets, lamps, and other appliances will make your cooling system work harder.
   
4) Use zone cooling. To avoid wasting energy -- and money -- cooling a room you're not using, close doors and/or vents to that room. (To avoid damage to your central cooling system, close off no more than one-fourth of the area of your home.)
   
5) Cool naturally. Take advantage of breezy days by opening doors and windows and turning off your cooling system. Cross-ventilation (breezes from opposite sides of your home) is the best. On breezeless days, portable or ceiling fans can help you stay cool for a fraction of the cost of air conditioning.
   
6) Use your shades. Closing drapes and shades -- especially on southern windows -- will help keep the sun out and your home cool. Cover eastern windows in the morning and western windows in the afternoon.
   
7) Beware of humidity. When outdoor temperatures rise, avoid activities that generate humidity, such as cooking, bathing, laundering, and dishwashing. Wait until the early morning or evening. Your kitchen's exhaust fan will help get rid of heat and moisture, in addition to cooking odors. 
   
8) Use air conditioning wisely. You can still control your cooling costs on days when you have to use your air conditioner. Keep all your doors and windows shut and avoid using a humidifier or evaporative ("swamp") cooler at the same time you run the air conditioner. The leaks, drafts, and moisture added by humidifiers and evaporative coolers force the air conditioner to work harder and use more energy.
   
9) Consider your landscaping. In the summer, leafy trees provide cool shade. In the winter, bare branches allow the sun to warm your home. Small shrubs can block heat reflected from patios and pavement. And planting vines over southern windows can reduce the effect of the sun's heat.
 

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