Eleven no-cost ways to beat the heat, conserve energy
There are many simple no-cost action steps you can take this summer to conserve energy and reduce your utility bills. The Minnesota Department of Commerce offers this list of ways to beat the heat and save money:
--Close curtains and blinds and pull shades during the hottest times of the day, to keep the hot sun out. Open them once the sun goes down.
--Use a programmable thermostat to allow your house to be warmer than normal when you are away; set your thermostat to 78 degrees (or higher) when you are at home and need cooling.
--Keep doors and windows closed when cooling (or heating) your home.
--Keep air conditioner coils clean and free of dust and dirt to increase the efficiency and life of your air conditioner; replace filters regularly.
--Use ceiling fans to produce a wind-chill effect and increase cooling efficiency; turn the fans off when not in the room.
--Enroll in utility energy-saving programs to get discounts on summer electric bills.
--Use a microwave instead of an oven to cook; ovens take longer to cook and can make your house warmer, requiring more of your AC system.
--Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes; air dry dishes and dry clothes outside.
--Take short showers--with low-flow showerheads--instead of baths to reduce hot water use.
--Turn off lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and computers and monitors when not needed or not in use.
--Drive sensibly; aggressive driving wastes fuel. Carpool to work and events when possible.
Getting a home energy assessment requires a fee, but it is a first step to identifying a wide range of energy-saving measures. Gas or electric utilities can arrange energy assessments.
For a host of energy conservation tips, check out the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savers website. Also, the Division of Energy Resources offers an energy guide called "Appliances, Lighting & Electronics" that covers many energy-saving suggestions.