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Reduce summer’s high energy bills

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 11:25 a.m. CST

DES MOINES — It is quite common for Iowans to spend as much as half of their home energy budget to keep cool during the temperature extremes of a typical Iowa summer. The Iowa Utilities Board is reminding Iowa utility customers of many simple ways to lower summer energy costs without sacrificing comfort and safety.  

Several easy and inexpensive steps to help reduce summer energy use include:

• Block out direct sunlight. Close shades and draperies, and use sunscreens over windows or patio areas during the day.

• Have your air conditioning (central or window unit) serviced regularly and clean or replace filters often. Keep air registers clean and clear of furniture or other obstructions. Keep outside air conditioning coils clean. 

• Use fans to increase air circulation. Only use fans when a room is occupied. 

• Install or use a programmable thermostat to turn up the temperature a few degrees higher when you are sleeping or away from your residence. During breaks from the heat and humidity, open windows to take advantage of cooler and less humid outside air. 

• For long-term natural shading, plant shade trees on the south and west sides of homes or buildings.

• Wait to use heat-producing appliances such as ovens, stoves, dishwashers and clothes washers or dryers in the late evening or early morning when it is cooler. Lowering overall energy demand during peak-use times benefits all customers by helping utilities avoid additional operating costs. 

For additional long-term energy savings, inquire with your local utility about a home energy audit, financial incentive and rebate programs, or energy-efficiency options such as:

• Adding insulation. Investment in an insulation upgrade often produces cost-effective energy savings throughout the year. 

• Installing energy-efficient windows. A wide variety of Low-E windows contain thin, transparent window coatings that permit visible light to pass through them, but help block heat transfer.

Additional household energy-saving information can be found by visiting the Iowa Energy Center’s website at www.iowaenergycenter.org and the Energy Star website at www.energystar.gov.