(ARA) - The warm weather and long days of summer can give us a free and easy feeling - that is, until it's time to pay the utility bill. Utility costs can add up fast with increased use of the air conditioner, appliances and other household items during peak times. Yet it's easy to cut energy bills if you take simple steps to adjust your daily routine. Here are some tips for staying cool while reducing energy costs this summer.
Change your air filter
Every change of season comes with the need to change the air filter on your home's heating and cooling system. Change it at least every three months and possibly more often at high-use times like summer. A clean filter keeps dust and dirt from bogging down the airflow, helping to cool your home without racking up extra costs.
Keep cool efficiently
Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to set a schedule for your indoor temperature throughout the day, ensuring greater efficiency and home comfort. With some models you can pre-set temperatures throughout the week to match your family's comings and goings, or even adjust your temperature remotely. Adjusting the temperature even a little can help a lot: in the summer, cooling costs can be cut up to 6 percent per each degree you raise the thermostat, according to American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning.
Get in hot water - the good way
Lower your water heating costs by wasting less hot water. Instead of taking a bath in a tub filled with hot water, take a refreshing shower using a low-flow showerhead. Other hot-water-saving habits: use only the cold water cycle of your automatic clothes washer, and when using the dishwasher, wash only full loads and use the air-dry cycle. You can even reduce hot water use around the house by simply repairing leaks in faucets and pipes - according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month.
Lighten costs with new light bulbs
Some of the newer energy saving light bulbs provide colors and light levels similar to traditional bulbs, but require less energy to produce light. For example, energy-saving incandescents provide about 25 percent energy savings; compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) provide about 75 percent savings, and light emitting diodes (LEDs) offer about 75 to 80 percent savings, according to www.energysavers.gov.
Get your HVAC system in shape
People often resolve to get in better shape over the summer, so keep your home's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in shape as well by scheduling a tune-up with a qualified dealer. For example, an independent American Standard Customer Care Dealer can inspect your system for efficiency and recommend adjustments. In addition, if your system is more than 10 years old, replacing it with a more energy-efficient model may save you money in the long run. To find a dealer near you visit www.americanstandardair.com.