Keep cool without breaking the bank

In addition to providing tips for energy efficiency, Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative and other utility companies often provide free energy audits to members and customers. Audits can help identify additional steps homeowners can take to decrease energy usage and help make their home as energy efficient as possible. For details or to schedule an audit with PCEC, call 628-3121.

CLAY COUNTY — With the weather outside heating up, officials at Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative and the U.S. Department of Energy say there are number of things homeowners can do to help keep themselves and their residences cool while also keeping utility costs down.

One tip is to keep air conditioner coils clean.

“And, trim shrubbery around the outside unit to keep it running as efficiently as possible,” states a release from PCEC.

In addition to trimming shrubbery around AC units, experts at Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, which includes members in Clay and Platte counties, suggest planting shade trees on the east and west sides of a home, if possible, to keep sunlight from overheating the house.

According to a release at www.energy.gov/, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver resource website, installing window coverings can also help prevent heat gain during the day.

“About 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows. In cooling seasons, about 76% of sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows enters to become heat,” states the site. “Most types of window treatments will result in energy savings, but the exact savings will depend on the type of attachment, the season, the climate and how the attachment is used.” For more details on suggested coverings, visit the Energy Saver site.

Another tip to keep energy usage efficient is for residents to change their air conditioner’s filter regularly to avoid underperformance of the unit. Keeping blinds drawn, states the Platte-Clay release, also helps “prevent solar warming of your home’s interior.”

In addition, keeping lamps or TVs away from thermostats, helps cooling systems run efficiently.

“The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary,” states the energy department site.

The PCEC release also states people should adjust their residence’s thermostats when leaving.

“Set your thermostat at a temperature you find comfortable and that provides humidity control, if needed. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be,” states the Department of Energy release. “Keep your house warmer than normal when you are away and lower the thermostat setting when you return home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat allows you to do this automatically and without sacrificing comfort. Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you first turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.”

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com or 903-6001.

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