Summertime is almost here!

Energy usage in America increases exponentially in summer time. here is a list of tips to help you keep your energy costs low as we roll into peak energy time.

* Keep air conditioning thermostats at 78 degrees or higher during summer months.
* Use ceiling fans, which allows for setting the thermostat at a higher temperature.
* Use nonessential appliances such as clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers during off-peak hours (before noon or after 6:00 p.m.) Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
* Close drapes and blinds to keep out direct sunlight during hot periods.
* Avoid using evaporative coolers or humidifiers at the same time an air conditioner is running.
* Run swimming pool equipment for the minimum amount of time, and during off-peak hours
* Limit the opening of refrigerators.
* Reduce hot, outdoor air from entering the house and eliminate the loss of cooled air with weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors.
* Clean or replace the air conditioner filter regularly to help it run more effectively.
* Check and clean refrigerator coils regularly, especially during the summer. Dirty coils on the back or bottom of the refrigerator can make it work harder than necessary. See appliance owner’s manual for maintenance instructions.
* Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, which can last up to 10 times longer than old-fashioned bulbs, and produce less heat while using only a quarter of the electricity.
* Turn off lights when leaving a room.
* Use task lighting to directly illuminate work areas.
* Install time clocks or photoelectric cells to control exterior lighting, advertising sign lighting and some interior lighting.
* Install dimmer or occupancy switches where appropriate to lower energy use such as in stairwells, copy rooms, restrooms.
* Insulate the hot water piping from the water heater to the wall or ceiling pipe penetration. Wrap the tank in an insulating blanket if the water heater’s energy factor is less than 0.59.
* Reduce use of all non-essential electric appliances, such as dishwashers and clothes dryers, especially during the late afternoon and early evening. Air-dry dishes instead of using the dishwasher’s drying cycle.
* Cook outdoors or use a microwave oven and small appliances like a toaster oven and electric skillet to avoid heating up the kitchen and adding moisture to the air. Microwaves use less than half the power of a conventional oven and cook food in about one-fourth the time.
* Plug home electronics, such as computers, TVs and VCRs, into power strips and turn power strips off when equipment is not in use.
* Lower the thermostat on the hot water heater; 115° is comfortable for most uses.
* Leaking electricity from electronics costs Americans millions annually. (About $750 million a year for TVs and about $600 million a year for VCRs.) To avoid the leaking of electricity, either unplug electronics when not in use, or plug into a power strip that can be switched off.
* Use as little liquid as possible when cooking – surplus water requires more heating and therefore more gas is used than is necessary.
* When cooking, match the burner to the vessel. Use a small vessel on a small burner. A large burner consumes 15 percent more gas.

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