Tips: Cool Savings This Summer

The heat of summer may be right around the corner, but consumers and small businesses can stay cool and protect the environment by following five recommendations from EPA.

"This summer, you don't have to let sweltering temperatures and sky-high energy bills get under your skin," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By taking a few simple energy-efficient steps, Americans can beat the heat while keeping more money in their pockets."

The average family spends $1,900 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. With a few steps like seasonal maintenance of energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, consumers can save on their energy bills and help reduce the risks of global warming.

EPA recommends the following five steps to help consumers and small businesses count down to a cooler planet and a more energy-efficient home:

  1. Find and seal air leaks that cause drafts and make your cooling system work overtime. Sealing and insulating your home can prevent the loss of cooled air and help save up to 10 percent on your energy bills each year.
  2. Look for the Energy Star when purchasing cooling products for your home. Products such as room air-conditioners and programmable thermostats that have earned the Energy Star operate more efficiently, which saves money and help protect the environment.
  3. Schedule annual, pre-season maintenance checkups with a licensed contractor to ensure that your cooling system is operating efficiently and safely. Be sure to clean or change your system's air filter regularly (generally once a month).
  4. Install a programmable thermostat and use your ceiling fans wisely. Turn your thermostat up several degrees when you are away (and your home doesn't need to be kept as cool). And use your ceiling fans only when you are in the room to save even more.
  5. Visit EPA's interactive Web-based tool, Energy Star @ home (http://www.energystar.gov/home), to learn more ways to make your home energy-efficient. Homeowners can see where they're doing well, find areas for improvement and learn how they can use energy more efficiently to save money and enjoy year-round comfort in their home. Homeowners also will be able to share their home improvement stories or read and learn about others who have saved through energy-efficient upgrades.

Many of these same tips for consumers are also useful for small businesses. In fact, with energy saving improvements throughout their facilities, small businesses can save up to 25 percent or higher on their energy bills.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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