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When it comes to cooling our homes and businesses, the cost of air conditioning just seems to keep going up and up. This year is no different. We like the cool comfort of dryer less humid air and we are willing to pay for it. However, there is no reason to just give your money away to the utility company. Older homes are typically thought of as energy wasters. However, newer homes from the 70’s and later also have issues when it comes to energy efficiency. More often than not there are mature trees surrounding the older homes. New construction generally stands in a flattened area with new landscaping. If you have ever lived in this new construction, you know immediately that there is a difference in the temperature of your rooms because there is no shade. Check the thermal envelope of the home. If you are asking what a thermal envelope is, it is everything that protects the indoors of the home from the elements and the outdoors. This includes the wall and roof assemblies, insulation, air/vapor retarders, windows, weather stripping and caulking. If you are considering buying a home or you just need to remodel and improve your existing home, know as much as you can about the shell and what is protecting you and you will be ahead of the game when it comes to lowering utility costs. There are some common sense things you can do to cut your energy costs and keep your homes and businesses cool at the same time.

• Have your utility company come out to do an energy audit. They will do a walk through and determine where you have wasted energy or leaks in your home • Check your attic, garage walls, and basement to make sure you have the proper R values for insulation. If you don’t add some, it’s usually quite easy • Have your central air conditioning unit serviced yearly, and have them plug any leaks that may occur throughout the year. Keep your unit outdoors clean and clear of debris, shrubs, etc. • What is the age of the furnace? Furnaces that are less than 12 years old can save you 25 – 40% on your utility bills • What is the age of your hot water heater? This appliance is the second most energy waster in the home. Newer models will also be more efficient. • Install a programmable thermostat to keep the temperature cooler or warmer when you are not at home. These thermostats are great in winter and summer • Install blinds or heavy drapes. They keep the warm air in and cold air out. • Put in double paned windows and clean out all air ducts • Install a ceiling fan in every room of the house. You can rotate the fan blades in either direction in winter and summer. Moving and circulating air helps you feel cooler even when the air is not “conditioned” • Make sure shrubs are trimmed for proper ventilation • Plant a tree for natural shade around your home. Properly positioned trees can save you up to 50% on your utility bill. If you live in a trailer house, shade trees can save you up to 75%. • Clean all air filters regularly • Apply a reflective light coating on your roof. Dark dull colors will absorb heat and your home will be hotter. • Check electrical outlets for leaks, and if you have them put in foam insulation • If you have recessed lighting, you may have a lot of leaks of energy

Make sure you are cooling your home with the proper size of air conditioner. If you have the wrong size, it won’t be energy efficient either. If you follow some simple ideas, you will be cool and comfortable in your home in the summer and warm in the winter.

Bev Marshall is a successful freelance writer offering guidance and suggestions for consumers buying a dehumidifier, air filter, ceiling fan and more. She gives information and tips to help you save money and make informed buying decisions.

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This Financial Services article was written by Beverly Marshall on 8/19/2005

When it comes to cooling our homes and businesses, the cost of air conditioning just seems to keep going up and up. This year is no different. We like the cool comfort of dryer less humid air and we