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When temperatures drop in the evening, consider using only a ceiling fan.

Cut energy costs

The hot and humid days of late mean two things: cranking up the air conditioner and higher cooling costs.

But don’t sweat it. These tips can help you reduce your energy use this summer.

•Add a few degrees to your home’s temperature. In your home, wear summer clothes designed for warmer temperatures.

•When temperatures drop in the evening, consider using only a ceiling fan.

•Every few years, inspect and repair caulking and weatherstripping around windows.

•Clean your window-mounted air conditioner’s air filter. A clogged air filter will result in significantly more energy consumption and can lead to costly air conditioner repairs.

•Draw window shades and drapes closed in order to deter the fast-warming rays of sunlight from reaching your rooms. This may reduce the room temperature by at least a few degrees, taking a load off your AC.

•Prevent a sudden central air conditioning breakdown. Central air-conditioner condensers should be cleaned annually to keep them operating properly.

Use a garden hose and gently wash out leaves, grass, dirt and other debris from between the coils.

•If you go on vacation, set your water heater to its “vacation” setting.

•Lower your water heater’s regular temperature setting. “Every water heater has an adjustable temperature setting,” said Dino Tatangelo,’s in-house water heater expert. “Most people keep water heaters at a much higher setting than is necessary for their needs. This means they are wasting energy keeping water exceptionally hot for most of every day – while they are sleeping, at work, walking their dogs, etc.

A setting of 120 degrees … is generally sufficient for most households.”

•Drain some water a few times per year. This will remove natural sediment buildup that can reduce energy efficiency.

•Turn off and unplug appliances that you don’t use regularly.

•Find out what appliances are energy hogs by plugging in an energy usage meter. This will enable you to track consumption, discover inefficiencies and possible problems.

•Clean off refrigerator condenser coils. Condenser coils have the important job of removing heat from refrigerators and keeping the temperature cool. Condenser coils are your refrigerator’s large, radiator-like coils located at the back or beneath the unit. Unfortunately, they’re dust and dirt magnets.

Such build up on the coils makes it more difficult for refrigerators to function properly and the result is increased energy consumption.These coils should be cleaned every 12 to 18 months; if you have pets, you may need to do this more frequently. A long-handled bristle brush and your vacuum cleaner will work best to remove dirt and fur from the coils. On models with coils located beneath the unit, you can access this area by removing the bottom grill or kick-panel located at the front or an access panel at the back.

A flashlight will be helpful in this dark area to prevent any damage to the fan.

•Reduce cooking times by using lids on pans and pots.