As the hot summer months arrive, most Americans wait for the dreaded summer utility bills. Keeping cool during the summer months shouldn't cost a fortune according to Toni Sherman, CRS. Sherman is president of the Council of Residential Specialists, an organization of top-producing realtors, that awards the earned the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation to experienced agents upon completion of a demanding education program.
"By operating your air cooling system in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner, you can save money and energy," says Sherman. She offers the following tips to keep utility bills in check:
- Purchase an automatic, programmable thermostat to change temperature settings during the day when you are away from home and at night when you are asleep.
- Paint your home a light color, or apply a reflective coating to the roof to reduce the amount of heat inside. If you have an attic, consider installing passive vents to allow some of the hot air to escape. They may be installed under the eaves, at a roof gable or along the ridge.
- Install more efficient windows and insulation. "New windows can average a 69% return on investment," said Sherman. "They can help save you money during the summer months and contribute to the value of your home."
- Use curtains, blinds, and natural landscaping for shading. "Each spring, we begin to think about landscaping," said Sherman. "But before you go to the nursery, consider how a carefully planned landscape can offer much more than beauty. It can make your home more comfortable and help reduce cooling bills."
- Operate dishwashers, ovens, dryers, and other heat producing appliances in the morning or at night.
- Use ceiling fans or small fans to help circulate the air in summer. Air that is circulated feels cooler, so the thermostat can be set at a higher temperature and the house will still feel comfortable.
- If a room is not in use, close it off and partially close vents in the rooms. If you have central air, however, never close off more than half the vents at one time. Equipment can be damaged by trying to force air through too many closed ducts.
Homeowners will be surprised at the savings that are possible by setting their thermostat a few degrees higher during the summer months.
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