Research: Don’t let energy bill boil over

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It’s former Press weather columnist Cliff Harris’s little joke — “Sholeh days,” i.e. anything above 90. He knows the hotter it gets, the more miserable I feel.

Whether you dread or embrace this week’s scorchers, the struggle to keep comfortable without an exorbitant electric bill is universal. Consider these energy-saving tips from power companies:

Kitchen

• Don’t run the dishwasher until it’s full. Set the dry cycle on air or cool (just not heat dry). These reduce energy consumption up to 40 percent.

• Regularly vacuum the coils on the back or underneath the refrigerator, to save up to 6 percent.

• Skip the stove in favor of a microwave or crock pot. They cost less and don’t heat the kitchen.

Laundry

• Wash in cold whenever possible. Up to 90 percent of the cost is heating the water.

• Dry towels separately; they slow the rest down.

• Use the dryer after 7 p.m. to keep the house cooler.

• Clean the lint filter after each load for better air circulation and reduced drying time.

Around the house

• Set the hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Use Energy Star-certified bulbs and appliances; the price difference is outweighed by what they save in energy bills. Energy Star ceiling fans move air 20 percent more efficiently than conventional models. Set the switch near the blades to force air down (or up in winter), generally counter-clockwise.

• Set the thermostat at 78. Each degree over 70 saves about 3 percent on the bill.

• Don’t set the a/c lower when you first turn it on; it won’t cool the house any faster and it costs more.

• If possible, use a programmable thermostat to adjust temperature settings several times per day on a preset schedule (e.g., higher at night).

• Close windows, shades, blinds, and curtains early in the day and keep them that way to reduce heat gain by as much as 50 percent.

Is it autumn yet?

•••

Sholeh Patrick is a sun-averse columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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