9 ways to stay cool without running up your utility bill

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) –  As you may have heard, the next few days are going to be sweltering. But rising temperatures don’t have to mean utility bills that make you faint.

Here are nine tips to keep your cool on a budget:

Adjust Thermostat

In hot weather, a two degree increase in the AC thermostat setting can result in 5% savings or more.

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Use Ceiling or Floor Fans

Ceiling or floor fans can make a room feel 5 degrees cooler than the actual temperature and use very little energy!

Change Air Filters

Clean or change air filters every month on a window unit or a central system. This practice is especially important during heavy usage months. Dirty filters can decrease comfort, cause inefficiency, and may shorten the life of the air conditioner.

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Get Your Air Conditioner Checked

Gary Whitley, Spokesman for Huntsville Utilities explains, “air conditioners compress refrigerant and allow it to expand again in order to produce cool air temperatures. If your unit is not properly charged, your bill may skyrocket.”

He advises people have their unit serviced at least every other year to avoid this. He also suggests every once in a while you simply listen to how long it runs.

“If it does not cycle on and off frequently at night or in moderate temperatures, you could be in for a large utility bill. Also, when the unit is serviced, make sure the coils are cleaned and your duct system is checked for air leakage.”

Keep Curtains and Blinds Shut

This will help keep the heat out so your AC doesn’t have to work as hard. Whitley says this is especially important for East and West facing windows.

“Trees, awnings, window tinting and/or solar screens are also cost-effective measures because they stop direct sunlight before it enters the home,” Whitley explains.

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Insulate Attic Access Door

Another cost-effective measure. If your home has an attic access door or pull down stairs that are located in conditioned space,  insulation and weather-stripping can have a positive impact on your bill.

Keep the Doors Closed

A Storm door won’t cut it. To protect your home from heat-transfer, keep your primary external doors shut.

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Take a Cold Shower

Okay, not really. But running the hot water when it isn’t absolutely necessary can increase your utility costs. Try to use less water (don’t keep the faucet running!) and keep it cold when possible.

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Reduce Moisture

Air conditioners not only cool the air, they also use energy to remove moisture. Whitley shares this advice:

“Make sure bath, kitchen, and laundry room exhaust fans are used whenever possible during the summer months. Install gutter extensions to keep rain water away from the house and if you have a crawl space, make sure a plastic sheet covers 100% of the ground area.”

He also advises against planting flower beds directly in contact with the house. The rain run-off or water from the hose could seep into the outside walls.

Instead, move the beds a few feet away from the house if possible.

“Homeowners who reduce moisture levels inside the home, will also reduce their cooling costs.”