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EPA Offers Energy Tips on Summer Cooling to Help Save Money, Reduce Pollution

Release Date: 05/19/2011
Contact Information: Stacy Kika, kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – With summer around the corner, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program today issued its annual list of ideas to help the public cut cooling costs, protect their health and stay comfortable at home.

The average home spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling. Increased energy production to run cooling systems not only raises costs, it also can contribute to pollution that adversely affects the quality of the air we breathe. Here are seven simple things that can be done to help protect your wallet and the environment:

    Change to More Efficient Light Bulbs. Change out incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices. Energy Star qualified lighting not only uses less energy, but also produces approximately 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced, too.
    Find the Best Thermostat Settings. If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to work around your family’s summer schedule—set it a few degrees higher (such as 78 degrees) when no one is home, so your cooling system isn’t cooling an empty house.
    Use Ceiling Fans Optimally. Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room make sure to turn off the fan.
    Maximize Shade. Pull the curtains and shades closed before you leave your home to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to serve as shade.
    Reduce Oven Time. Use a microwave instead of an oven to cook, when you can. Ovens take longer to cook food and can make your house warmer, requiring your AC system to turn on to keep the house at a comfortable temperature.
    Check Air Conditioner Filters. Check your cooling system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. A good rule is to change the filter at least every three months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool—wasting energy. Also, remember to have your system serviced annually to ensure it’s running at optimum efficiency for money and energy savings.
    Plug Duct System Leaks. As much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home’s duct system is lost due to leaks and poor connections. Seal duct work using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulate all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages). Also, make sure that connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet floors, walls, and ceilings. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.
    Energy Star was started by EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products, as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings that meet strict energy-efficient specifications set by the EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved approximately $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emission of 33 million vehicles.

    More information on ways to cut energy costs this summer: http://www.energystar.gov/cooltips

    More information on being more energy-efficient and protecting the environment in your area through “Energy Stars Across America”: http://www.energystar.gov/starsmap