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Slash your summer utility bills

By Terri Bennett
Terri Bennett
Terri Bennett has been providing weather forecasts in the Charlotte area for more than 16 years. In September 2007, she launched Terribennett.com to serve as the single source of Terri's knowledge and expertise. She is also promoting green technology in her 'Do Your Part' campaign.

It’s getting downright hot outside these days. Don’t wait for despair to set in over rising utility bills. Here are my top five ways to cut your costs.

Make your thermostat work for you Set it a few degrees higher when no one will be home, so you’re not cooling an empty house. Or install a programmable thermostat, so you won’t worry about changing the thermostat every time you leave your home.

Don’t forget the fan One ceiling fan can make a room feel as much as seven degrees cooler. The fan’s blades should spin counterclockwise during the hotter months. In humid climates, using a dehumidifier will also make it feel cooler by lowering the relative humidity inside your home.

Make your windows more efficient Close the blinds and curtains during the day. That can reduce the heat coming into your home by as much as 40 percent. You can also choose curtains with a thermal lining for additional insulation.

Keep cool in the kitchen Your kitchen is a big source of heat. Run the dishwasher and clothes dryer at night and only when fully loaded. Instead of heating up the oven, fire up the grill outside or use the microwave.

Trees make a big impact Finally, plant a deciduous tree (or two) near the southwest corner of your home. It will shade your home in the summer and shed its leaves in the fall to allow in warming sunlight. Trees take decades to reach maturity, so don’t plant one too close to the house.

Combined, these tips can dramatically reduce the amount of energy you use to keep your home cool. And you’ll hardly break a sweat as you Do Your Part to make them work for you.

Bennett: DoYourPart.com
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