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Easy ways to get that summer power bill in check

The Florida Public Service Commission’s website, www.psc.state.fl.us, contains a lot of helpful consumer information. These tips were gleaned from " 101 Causes of High Summer Utility Bills. "

  • Give your attic adequate insulation. It is hot up there. One of the smartest investments you can make is improving ceiling insulation.
  • Ask your power provider for a free energy audit that will include this information.

  • Clean the air conditioner filter. When air flow is restricted, your system runs less efficiently, increasing costs. It should be replaced monthly.
  • Set the thermostat no cooler than 78 degrees. A programmable thermostat will allow you to run the unit at 85 while you are at work and cooler when you are home. Cooling costs increase 12 percent for each degree below 78.
  • Make sure the thermostat is accurate. The simplest solution? Place an accurate thermometer on top of the thermostat, note any difference and compensate accordingly.
  • Stop the leaks. Check doors, windows and ducts that don't seal tightly. You can find weather stripping at the local hardware store. Consider replacing ill-fitting jalousie or awning windows if you rarely have them open.
  • Minimize late afternoon sun on windows on the southwest or west side. Landscaping and awnings are your first line of defense. Then consider tinted films from the hardware store. Lastly, drapes and blinds closed midday will keep heat exchange to a minimum.
  • — Karen Beal is a member of the Keyswide nonprofit Green Living & Energy Education. She writes about green living and the four Rs -- reducing, reusing, recycling and rot (compost). She can be reached at karen@keysglee.com.

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