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Are Your Energy Bills Going Up With the Heat?

Stressing over your energy bills? You're probably not the only one. This summer has been a sizzler and energy costs are on the rise. Your home should be an escape from the heat, not an extension of it. So how does one keep cool and keep the cost down? Do yourself and the environment a favor and read these tips on how to save. 

1. Close your shades. This is a small, but effective step in helping to lower your bill. Open shades create a greenhouse effect in your home, causing your air conditioner to work overtime to maintain cooler temperatures.

2. Program your thermostat. According to Ronnie Kweller, Director of Communications at Emerald Cities Collaborative and past spokeswoman for the Alliance to Save Energy, a programmable thermostat can save up to 10% per year from your heating and cooling bills.

3. Clean your air filters. How often you should change your filters varies, depending on your home, if you have pets, etc. However, you should clean your filters once a month. The dirtier the filter, the harder your AC has to work.

4. Cold showers. I know there's nothing like a hot shower to help wake you up in the morning. But turning down the temperature on a 50-gallon water heater from 130 degrees to 115 degrees can save you more than $50 a year.

5. Vanquish the vampires. "Vampire" power refers to electronics that suck your electricity when not in use. But you don't have to worry about finding a stake. Simply unplug them when you're not using them or use a Smart Strip. 

6. Grill out. Try to avoid using the oven during the summer months. The oven will heat the house and force the AC to work harder.

7. Keep your washing machine and dishwasher full. You use the same amount of water and energy whether or not the machine is full. So make sure it's full to get the most bang for your buck. Also, skip the drying cycle on your dishwasher and opt for hanging your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.

8. Seal it up. Seal any cracks or holes in your home where cool air might be escaping, especially in older dwellings. 

9. Contact your energy company. Some companies will come to your home and conduct a complimentary energy audit to find out where the majority of your energy costs are coming from and how you can save. They may also give you free energy efficient light bulbs.

With the money you'll save by taking these steps, you'll be able to have some fun in the sun before the weather gets cool.

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