Lighten Up For Summer

Everyone wants to conserve energy – whether it’s to avoid the rolling blackouts that plagued California this spring or simply to lower growing utility bills.

While a full-scale remodeling to improve energy efficiency may not be possible, most people can save money with a series of much smaller steps, reports The Early Show contributor Bob Vila.

For example, homes with south-facing exposures have the afternoon sun beating down on unprotected glass and this raises the temperature throughout the home. Planting shade trees or installing awnings on windows exposed to direct sunlight can save on your cooling bills.

Is the second floor of your home always hot? You might want to check out the attic. Improperly vented, the attic can reach temperatures of 130 degrees or more - and that heat can be transferred into your home's living spaces.

Even the colors you choose for your walls and furniture can have an effect. Dark shades have a tendency to trap heat. So this might be a good time to put a coat of lighter, brighter paint on the walls and bring out summer-colored slipcovers for the furniture.

The following are some more of Vila's steps to home energy conservation during the summer:
  • Clean the Air Conditioner: Clean the filter and straighten any fins (on the outside of the window) to improve efficiency. Outside, clear away yard debris for maximum efficiency.

  • Block drafts by caulking and and sealing windows to keep cold in and heat out.

  • Use window films allow you to reduce the heat and glare that comes into your home through the windows. They also remove destructive ultraviolet rays, the rays most responsible for causing fading and sun damage.

  • In rooms that receive direct sunlight, add window blinds to reduce heat gain.


  • Use programmable thermostats cut your home utility bills - freeing money for other things. Increase your comfort-program A/C to turn on shortly before you arrive home instead of leaving in running all day.

  • Install ceiling fans, which can save up to 40 percent on summer cooling costs, and up to 10 percent on winter heating costs,depending on local climate conditions and energy rates. A ceiling fan cools by creating a "wind chill effect." It does not lower the room temperature.

  • Clean lamps, shades and light bulbs to make sure your lights operate most efficiently. Twenty percent of your home energy bill goes to lighting your home.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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