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Cool down your home with hot-weather tips

It’s that time of year again when triple digits fill the week’s weather forecast. We know with rising temperatures come rising utility bills (often accompanied by rising blood pressure, yikes).

Here’s a list of hot weather tips to cool down your home and wallet.

■ Keep windows closed during the heat of the day, and draw blinds and curtains to keep the heat out. Consider adding blackout curtains that reflect UV rays. Investing in blackout curtains will pay off in the winter too by reducing warm air from escaping.

■ For an easy DIY project, use a window tinting kit, especially on southern-facing windows. Proper window tinting can reduce your cooling bills up to 30%. Try Gila® Energy Saving Window Films. Be sure to read all directions and warranties. Although pricier, also consider custom solar window screens that block damaging UV rays and solar heat gain.

■ Run your appliances in the early morning and late evening, when temperatures are at their lowest. Big appliances throw off a lot of heat, which will make your air conditioner work harder to cool down the house. Also, using big appliances at night reduces strain on the electrical grid during peak hours.

■ Lower the temperature on your water heater. If leaving for vacation, shut off your water heater entirely, or switch it to “vacation” if your unit offers this setting.

■ Is your attic properly insulated? It gets hot up in there, sometime over 125 degrees, and that heat can penetrate into your home. A high R-value (the measure of resistance to heat flow) is what you need to keep your home cool in the summer (and warm in the winter). Older homes’ attics only have R-values of R9-R19, while newer homes have an insulation of R25 or higher.

■ Dress in light natural fabric and turn up your thermostat to 78. When away, raise the thermostat between 80-84. Do not let temps go above 85, in fact, experts warn that shutting AC completely can damage paint, electronics, wiring, and stress appliances.

■ Be sure to change the air conditioning filter(s) regularly. An AC unit with dirty filters can use 5-10% more energy— it can even age your unit prematurely.

■ Using a ceiling or room fan will make a higher thermostat setting more comfortable because moving the air will cool the room, and you. Also, for ceiling fans, flip the switch on the unit so it turns counter-clockwise in the summer. Switching blade direction will pull the cool air upward so you feel a cooling effect.

■ Keep hot air from sneaking in and cool air from seeping out of your home. Use caulk and weather stripping to seal air leaks around doors, windows, and AC window units. Our local Ace Hardware and True Value carry a plethora of home insulation products like M-D Foam Window Weather Stripping and Frost King Replacement Kerf Door Seal.

In the spirit of shopping locally, this time of year our local hardware stores carry “cool” seasonal products and have sales that are well worth checking out. For example, I’ve heard great things about the As Seen On TV’s personal air coolers, available at True Value, and Ace Hardware currently has a sale on 3-speed oscillating pedestal fans. For the patio or working outdoors I personally enjoy using a portable bucket-top misting fan with rechargeable batteries.

BCNV.org offers energy saving tips on their utility page and a thorough “Home Conservation Tips” guide that can definitely save you money. Many of these tips will cost you no money to implement. Check out https://www.bcnv.org/DocumentCenter/View/657/Conservation-Tips-PDF

To help lighten your summer power bill load, the city offers a Budget Billing Plan— “Tired of high summer electric bills? Use Boulder City’s Equal Payment Plan to average your last 12 months’ usage. Then you pay the same amount each month. No more surprises in the summertime.”

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