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Here are affordable ways to save on cooling costs this summer

The sun sets behind power lines near homes during a heat wave in Los Angeles, September 6, 2022.

Patrick T Fallon | Afp | Getty Images

As millions of Americans across the country grapple with the scorching heat, experts offer tips for saving money amid record temperatures.

Despite lower inflation, electricity prices remained high with an annual increase of 5.9% in May, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that this summer, Americans will pay about 2% more for electricity than last year.

“This is one of those challenging times where staying calm isn’t just a matter of comfort and convenience — it can also be a health and safety issue,” said Bruce McClary, vice president of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

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McClary said the heatwave is particularly worrisome for warmer parts of the United States, where summer energy bills are already higher. For cash-strapped consumers, larger-than-expected electricity bills can sometimes be the “tipping point” in a financial crisis, he said.

According to experts, with temperatures still in the triple digits in some parts of the country, here are some of the best ways to save on cooling expenses.

1. Increase your thermostat

One of the best ways to save on home cooling costs is to turn up the thermostat, according to Mary Farrell, senior editor at Consumer Reports. While your savings may depend on many factors, she said changing the setting even by a few notches can mean big savings.

You can save up to 10% annually in both cooling and heating by setting your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from the normal setting for eight hours each day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

2. Reducing heat gain

It’s also critical to reduce “radiant heat gain” in your home by closing blinds or blinds for windows facing the sun and keeping doors closed, said Arcadio Padilla, complex issues supervisor for Texas-based Reliant Energy.

While it’s nice to have natural light, it also brings a lot of heat into the house during the summer, he said. “And this is our enemy now.”

3. Improve air flow

Another wallet-friendly option is to check the airflow in your system. “Air conditioners use more energy when they have to work harder,” said Adam Cooper, managing director of customer solutions at the Edison Electric Institute.

Replacing dirty air filters reduces energy consumption by 5% to 15%, Cooper said, and you can be sure the system is running efficiently with regular tune-ups and keeping debris clean from the outdoor unit.

4. Check the thermostat setting

For areas with high humidity, Reliant Energy’s Padilla also recommends keeping the thermostat on the “auto” setting rather than “on” or “spin.”

We don’t want to put in too much humidity, he said, so if you have a smart thermostat it’s a must to turn off the cycle function.



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