How to Cut Cooling Costs in a Heat Wave

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It is hot outside. Too hot to even go to the pool because the water's so warm that it doesn't cool you down. So what do you do if you live in a part of the nation taking a beating from this heat wave? You retreat indoors and crank up the AC. Then you gasp when you see the electric bill and start looking for possessions to pawn to pay it.

Keeping cool doesn't have to bankrupt you, though. Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the association of shareholder-owned electric companies, offers these eight simple, no-cost tips to help you keep your electric bill under control this summer:

Set the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when you're home. That's where I keep my thermostat set, and I feel comfortable working at home all day -- even when the heat index outside is in the triple digits. When no one is home, turn up the thermostat to 85 degrees. You'll save 1% to 2% on cooling costs for each degree you raise your thermostat, according to EEI. And be sure to clean your air filter every 30 days to keep your air-conditioning system working efficiently.

Close the curtains or shades on any south- or west-facing windows to save 2% to 4% on cooling costs.

Turn on ceiling and table fans then raise the thermostat setting about four degrees -- you'll still feel cool. Make sure ceiling fans are turning counterclockwise and use them only when you're in the room.

Shut doors to unused rooms and close any air supply vents inside them to save up to 3% on cooling costs.

Cook with the microwave instead of a regular oven to save up to 90% on cooking costs. If you can stand the heat outside, cook on a grill to lower cooking costs even more.

Install compact fluorescent lights. You'll save about 66% on lighting cost per fixture, according to EEI. Be sure to turn off lights that aren't being used and, if possible, dim ones that are being used.

Wash and dry full loads of clothes and dishes to save 2% to 4% on energy costs because you'll be washing fewer times than if you ran your appliances to wash several smaller loads. You'll also save by using cold water rather than warm or hot.

Check out your power company's Web site because all electric companies offer money-saving tips, and many have energy-saving programs and incentives, including free online energy audits, rebates for purchasing high-efficiency appliances and low-interest loans to help purchase high-efficiency appliances.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance

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