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As summer heats up, save money and stay cool

As summer heats up, the Minnesota Department of Commerce offered some simple energy-saving tips to help Minnesotans keep cool, conserve energy, and reduce their utility bills in the months ahead.

"By taking a few simple steps to keep cool air in your home and warm air out, Minnesotans can see significant savings on their utility bills this summer," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. "Taking steps to save energy is good for our environment and our economy; and those steps often can mean real savings in your family budget."

Check out the following tips to keep cool, save money, and help prevent unnecessary power outages by easing high demand of electric power this summer.

Ten tips to beat the heat, save energy

1. Get an Advanced Energy Audit. Find out how your house is working. An advanced energy audit will provide an evaluation of your home's energy use, insulation levels, air leakage and mechanical systems. Utility companies and private contractors can provide audits; check with your utility or the Minnesota Building Performance Association at .

2. Seal Air Leaks. Over half of our home's energy is used to heat and cool our homes. To keep the cool air in, it is critical to reduce air leaks in attics, walls, windows and doors. An advanced energy audit will identify the locations and methods for sealing air leaks.

3. Use a Programmable Thermostat. Install and use a programmable thermostat with your central air conditioner and set it to 78 degrees F. Or, if you are home throughout the day, manually turn on and off your aid conditioner as needed.

4. Maintain HVAC Systems. Heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems need to be inspected annually to ensure they are working efficiently. Change furnace and air conditioning filters regularly, and keep air conditioner coils clean and free of dust and dirt to increase efficiency and lifetime use.

5. Cool Efficiently. Replace old inefficient air conditioning systems with high efficient, ENERGY STAR models ( ). For central air conditioners, look for a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating of 14.5 or more. Have your utility cycle your air conditioner during times of peak electrical demand to reduce the need for additional generation--and you will get a discount on your utility bill.

6. Keep the Cool Air Inside. Keep shades pulled and doors and windows closed during the daytime when temperatures are at the warmest. Open windows at night to let cool air in.

7. Use Fans. Use fans to cool your body or to pull cooler air in through windows at night. The use of ceiling fans and oscillating fans in hot weather will create a windchill effect that can make your home feel cooler and reduce the need for air conditioning.

8. Air Dry Dishes and Clothes. Reduce the electricity use of your dishwasher and clothes dryer by air drying dishes and clothes.

9. Conserve Power. Turn off devices when you are not using them (lights, TVs, entertainment systems, computers and monitors); plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; and turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (older TVs and DVDs in standby mode may still use several watts of power).

10. Use CFLs and LED lighting. Replace your old inefficient incandescent lights with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Current ENERGY STAR-labeled CFLs, for instance, use about one third of the energy and last up to 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb with the same light output.

For more energy-saving tips, visit as provided by the U.S. Department of Energy or talk to your utility. Also, check out the Division of Energy Resources' "10 Ways to Save Energy" fact sheet and its website at .