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Homes | Cooling costs

Proper maintenance can cut the cost of cooling your home

Control air-conditioning levels to match your living patterns.

StatePoint

Control air-conditioning levels to match your living patterns.

As the mercury rises, so do your home cooling bills. A typical American household spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling costs, according to Energy Star. When the air cooling your home escapes due to leaks, gaps and poor insulation, air conditioners must work harder to compensate. Fortunately, there are ways to keep hot air out and cool air in. StatePoint

Insulate properly

One big step toward lowering energy bills is to properly insulate your home. You may want a professional energy audit to determine what areas of your home are in greatest need of insulation.

Growing in popularity among homeowners is spray polyurethane foam. SPF insulation is spray-applied foam that expands to insulate mid- to larger-size areas of your home, such as walls, attics and roofs. This insulation improves your home's energy efficiency, and helps keep rooms at the desired temperature. Additionally, interior moisture levels can be better controlled, helping inhibit mold and mildew growth.

Insulating your home often requires professional expertise. When looking for a contractor, review qualifications and experience.

For more information, go to spraypolyurethane.com.

Seal cracks

Cold air can leak out around windows, doors, light fixtures, electrical and gas outlets, cracks, rim joists, air conditioner penetrations and gaps in corners. To seal these small areas, do-it-yourselfers can use insulating foam sealant in an aerosol can, which is sold at many home improvement stores.

When applying foam sealant, follow the safety information on the label. It can be difficult to remove from clothing and most surfaces, so practice by applying a small amount on scrap material. Make sure you have any protective gear noted in the manufacturer's instructions, like safety goggles or glasses.

Tune your system

Inspect your cooling system yearly. Clean or replace filters regularly to help units operate better.

Make sure you have the right air-conditioning unit for your home. Poorly sized units can increase energy costs and reduce comfort.

Use a programmable thermostat to control air-conditioning levels to match your daily living patterns. If you need to replace cooling units, consider ones that have the Energy Star rating, which meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.

Shade your home

Trees and shrubs on your home's western and southern exposures keep it cooler. So can trellises or awnings. And closing blinds or shades can also keep rooms comfortable.

Increase savings

By making your home more energy efficient you may be eligible for rebates from your utility company and government tax credits.

Proper maintenance can cut the cost of cooling your home 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 12:28am]

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