Stay Cool Without Overheating Family Budget

Fans of home comfort are welcoming a new campaign that offers energy-saving tips written in straightforward language.

(NAPSI)-If you have begun to get hot under the collar about rising energy costs, you have lots of company. The Energy Department recently predicted a 3.5 percent increase in U.S. electricity rates, just as summer arrives.

The typical U.S. household already spends about $1,446 a year on home energy bills. While there may not be anything that consumers can do about power rates, a new nationwide campaign has been established to help people become smarter users of energy and save money in the process.

The campaign, produced by the Advertising Council and TracyLocke, and sponsored by Energy Outreach Colorado, is distributing information on smart energy usage throughout the United States. A primary source is the campaign Web site at www.energyhog.org. While designed in part for children, the site contains useful tips on energy efficiency improvement projects for adults as well as links to related energy efficiency sites for people of all ages. For example, there’s a link to the U.S. Department of Energy, which offers an online virtual home tour with tips for saving energy and money at home-in a single-family house, a condo or an apartment.

The site contains tips that are written in straightforward language that can be understood by any homeowner or apartment dweller who wants to minimize summer electricity costs while still staying cool. For example:

  • Keep the sun out during the day and let the cooler night air be a source of comfort. So get into the habit of closing the windows and drawing the blinds each morning.
  • Trim vegetation from around the air-conditioning unit. Keep bushes and other plants four to five feet away from your outside condensing unit. This will allow ample airflow around the unit.
  • Adjust the rotation of ceiling fans. Most ceiling fans have reversible motors, so all you have to do is flip a switch to change direction with the season. During the summer, your fan should rotate counterclockwise to circulate the cool air.
  • Use ceiling, box or oscillating fans in conjunction with the air conditioner. Fans create a windchill effect that makes you feel cooler at a warmer thermostat setting. But remember, this cooling effect only works if you are using the air conditioner.
  • Check air filters. Take the time to check them now and replace the ones that are dirty. Use your monthly electric bill as a reminder to check your filters each month.
  • Add reflective film or solar screens to windows. These simple additions can go a long way in reducing heat gain, which will lower energy usage. When added to windows on the eastern and western sides of your home, these materials can reduce your annual cooling costs by up to $11 for each 3-by-6-foot window. For windows with a southern exposure, you can save about half that amount.
  • Set your thermostat on “auto.” Use the “auto” fan setting on your thermostat. Setting it to “on” causes the fan to run even when you are not there. This increases your bill, but doesn’t provide any benefits.
  • Check the level of insulation in the attic. This is especially important if you own a home that is more than 20 years old. More than 80 percent of houses built prior to 1980 lack adequate ceiling insulation. If you like do-it-yourself projects, your local home improvement center can guide you through this. If you’d rather call a professional, look for a local insulation company and make sure it is bonded and insured.

The energy efficiency campaign is supported by the leading energy experts at the U.S. Department of Energy, The Home Depot, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, the National Fuel Funds Network and 20 state energy offices throughout the United States.

For more energy tips that you can use year-round visit, www.energyhog.org.