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Adjust the thermostat to keep home cooling costs down this summer

July 13, 2012

By OSU Extension Service

With just a few weeks of summer already past, most Oklahomans have been running their air conditioners nonstop for a while now. And as any resident of this state knows, the temperature will not be cooling off for some time.

As the weather warms up, many homeowners see their utility bills rise as well, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“It’s important to keep utility bills manageable, especially for those with limited incomes,” Peek said. “There are some easy, cost-efficient things you can do to increase your home energy savings without sacrificing your comfort.”

One way to help reduce cooling costs is to adjust the thermostat when it can be set for longer periods of time such as when you are at work or at night when you are sleeping.

A programmable thermostat is easy to install and allows homeowners to preset the temperature for times when no one is home, when everyone is home and at night when everyone is sleeping.

Heating and cooling accounts for about half of home energy use. In an effort to keep cooling costs down, make sure your air conditioner well is maintained, whether it is a central air unit or a window unit. It is always a good idea to have your air conditioner checked out by a professional before the hot weather arrives, but it is not too late to get it done now.

“Air conditioner efficiency is measured by SEER, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio,” Peek said. “The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient your unit. Currently the minimum SEER is 13 for central air conditioners. The higher the SEER rating, the greater your savings.”

The recommended temperature for maximum efficiency is 78 F in the morning when everyone is getting ready for work or school. Program your thermostat up to 85 F during the day when no one is home. In the evening when everyone returns home, set the thermostat at 78 F. Bump it up to about 82 F at night when you go to bed. Consider wearing light, natural fabric clothing. V-neck styles can help keep you cool by allowing heat to escape.

Keeping the air filter clean is another way to help lower cooling costs. A dirty filter reduces air flow, which can cause the unit to work less efficiently.

“Everything you can do to reduce your cooling costs is that much more money in your pocket,” Peek said.

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