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How To Keep Energy Bills Low

By now, you have probably received you first utility bills of the summer. If your jaw dropped at the total, get ready for help.

Danny Lipford, host of "Today's Homeowner," visits The Early Show on Wednesday to share some practical advice.

One of the largest energy users in your home during the summer months is the air-conditioning system. Having the system serviced by a qualified cooling contractor will ensure that it is operating as efficiently as possible.

Here are Lipford's efficient cooling tips:

Change your air filter at least every few months and use a quality filter. The filter usually is in a filter grill on your hallway wall or ceiling. It is important to never block or restrict this grill so that the air conditioning system will receive an adequate intake of air.

It is also important to check ductwork for leaks. You pay a lot of money to cool your home, so you want to be sure that you are not cooling your attic or the crawlspace under your house as well.

Don't forget the filter in your room air conditioner. These filters also need to be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. When choosing a room air conditioner or any appliance for your home, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR® label that insures that you are getting the most energy-efficient model available.

The less air conditioning you use this summer, the better. Here are a few more tips:

  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your rooms to a higher temperature at night or when you are not home.
  • Open windows and use portable fans or ceiling fans when possible. Mild air movement of only 1 mph can make you feel 3 to 4 degrees cooler.
  • Install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from your home.
  • Install a whole-house fan to pull air through your home and exhaust through the roof

Here is how you can seal the envelope of your home:
  • Check the insulation in your attic to be sure that you have enough. If you can see the ceiling joists, you need to add additional insulation.
  • Seal all cracks and gaps around windows, doors, plumbing pipes, etc.
  • Consider installing an attic ladder cover.
  • Check all weather-stripping and thresholds.

Other things to consider:
  • Change incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs. They burn cooler, longer and cheaper.
  • Make sure that your fireplace damper is closed.
  • Use your outdoor grill instead of your stove/oven.
  • Plant trees and shrubs that will shade your windows.
  • Wash only full loads of clothes and full loads of dishes.

The following are some products Lipford recommends:

"Filtrete" filters from 3M
It is the first-of-its kind refillable air filter that helps keep your air cleaner.
Suggested retail cost $14.99

Whisper Aire Whole-House Fan
Instead of running your air conditioner all the time, you can just turn this on and it will pull air and create a breeze in every room in the house that has a window. You only need one in the center part of the house.
Suggested retail cost $600

There is no insulation around the opening of the attic stairs and this tent completes sealing the envelope of the home by insulating the attic itself.
Suggested retail cost $129.95 - $149.95

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