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Summer

These changes can keep you cool and save you money.

Home improvements

  • Use ceiling fans to help feel cooler and distribute the cool air.
  • Check to make sure fireplace dampers are closed and fit tightly.
  • Install an attic ventilator. An attic ventilating system draws cool air up through the house and may provide as much comfort as an air conditioner at a much lower cost. Use the system to "pump in" cool air during summer evenings, then seal up the house during the day. Attic ventilation is good for the heating season, too.
  • Select a central air conditioning unit with the lowest suitable capacity and highest efficiency. Ask your dealer to help you determine what you need.
  • Planting trees or shrubs that provide shade for your air-conditioning unit can increase efficiency by up to 10 percent.
  • Do not place lamps or television sets near your thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from appliances, and that might cause the A/C to run longer than necessary.
  • Don't let a furnace pilot light burn all summer. If your furnace has a standing pilot light, have it replaced with an intermittent ignition device. Then it will use fuel only when necessary.
  • Use vents and exhaust fans in the kitchen and laundry room to pull heat and moisture directly to the outside.
  • Use awnings to keep the sun out of south-facing windows in the summers, You could even plan the overhangs so that they'll shade windows from the high summer sun but let in the lower winter sun.

Maintenance

  • Periodic maintenance will keep your cooling system running efficiently. Hey, have you heard of our Service Guard appliance repair and maintenance service?
  • Make sure ducts in your air conditioning system are properly sealed and insulated, especially those that pass through the attic or other uncooled spaces.
  • Clean or replace your air-conditioning filter each month during the cooling season.

The thermostat

  • Set the air conditioner thermostat at 75 degrees Fahrenheit or higher — 78 degrees is more economical.
  • Use a programmable thermostat that can automatically raise the thermostat setting at least five degrees when no one is home; 85 degrees is ideal.
  • To adjust the thermostat manually, lower the setting a few degrees at a time rather than all at once. It's more economical — and comfortable — to raise the thermostat setting rather than turn off the air conditioner.
  • Setting your thermostat colder than normal when you turn on the A/C will not cool your home faster. It will cool to a lower temperature than you need and use more energy.
  • You can also save money and energy by installing a demand controller (Available in South Dakota only).

Living habits

  • Keep blinds, shades and drapes closed during the hottest part of the day. Shut your windows during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Dim your lights. Standard incandescent light bulbs produce heat, so keep the lights low.
  • Cook during the early morning or late evening hours.
  • Use cold water whenever possible.
  • Close off unoccupied rooms by closing the vents and shutting the door.
  • Lowering your water heater temperature a few degrees can save on energy usage.
  • Move furniture away from the air registers, allowing for the free flow of cooled air.

Air conditioners

  • Turn off air conditioners when you leave the room for several hours. You will use less energy cooling the room later than if you leave it running.
  • Trim bushes or plants near the outdoor air conditioning unit so air can circulate.
  • Make sure the clothes dryer vent does not blow on the outdoor air conditioning unit.
  • Keep storm windows closed when the air conditioning is operating.
  • Locate room air conditioners on a north wall or a side of the building that's shaded.
  • If you are using a window air conditioner, use a fan as well. It will spread cooled air without greatly increasing your power use.
  • Consider replacing old, inefficient air conditioning equipment with a high-efficiency heat pump or air conditioning unit. Heat pumps cool during the summer and provide heat during the fall and winter.
  • Before buying an air conditioning unit or system, find out its Energy Efficiency Ratio. Divide the cooling capacity (measured in Btu's per hour) by its energy requirement (in watts). An EER of 10 or more is very good, 8 or 9 is good, and 6 or 7 is fair. For the best savings, look for an air conditioner with the highest EER and the smallest capacity that will meet your needs.

Summer vacation savings

Summer time is vacation time!

When your house is vacant, your electric bill should go way down, right? Well, not always. Many things continue to run in your home whether you are there or not. Here are a few tips to help lower electric usage while you are away:

  • Turn off your electric water heater
  • Raise the temperature of your refrigerator to 42-45 degrees
  • Put security lights on a timer
  • Turn off the air conditioning