By Gillian Nicol
July 29, 2011 8:20 p.m. BIRMINGHAM — The summer heat wave burning up most of the country is sending power bills soaring. Use these easy tips to cool down your energy costs and your home.
Landscaping. If your yard is in desperate need of a facelift, consider landscaping options that will also benefit your wallet. Creating shade can vastly improve your cooling costs as it prevents your home from heating up under the sun. Consider this an eco-friendly version of closing your curtains and blinds.
More: Record high, low temperatures by state
Roofing. It is no surprise that lighter colored roofing surfaces or those with special coatings tend to reflect more of the sun’s heat, which helps to reduce your energy costs throughout the summer while also improving overall efficiency.
Filters. It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it. Keeping your air filters clean and changing them out on a regular basis (about once a month) will significantly improve air circulation and cooling effectiveness.
Upgrade insulation. It may not be the first improvement to come to mind, but adding additional attic insulation is an inexpensive way to lower energy bills by keeping heat from entering in the summer and escaping during the winter.
Solar energy. If you’re building a new home or it is simply the time for a new air conditioning unit, consider a solar-ready option. Although initially costly, the overall savings will abound and the tax-deduction is a nice incentive.
Programmable thermostat. Utilizing your programmable thermostat can save you up to $150 per year on your electric bill. This type of thermostat raises or lowers temperature settings automatically so that you don’t have to remember. Building a temperature schedule based on when you’re out of the house is a great way to start.
Company website. Taking a quick trip to the World Wide Web and visiting your electric company’s website can turn you on to great money-saving tips that are customized to your energy usage.
Information from usnews.com, energy.gov and Kiplinger.com