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Illinois Country Living

Doug Rye, licensed architect and the popular host of the "Home Remedies" radio show

Energy Solutions:

Summer’s Top 10 Tips for Saving Energy
Follow a few basic tips and you’ll notice improved comfort and lower bills

Whew! It is getting warm outside. I guess that’s pretty normal for this time of year. And this is just the beginning. We’ve still got the hottest part of the summer to sweat through.

Since this is the peak time for electricity use, I thought it would be a good time to review some tried and true ways to keep that cool air inside your house and to cut down on your electric bills.

Here are my top 10 tips for the summer:

    1. Make sure an authorized HVAC dealer has serviced your air conditioner for the cooling season. Keep the filters changed monthly.
    2. Install ceiling fans and use them along with your air conditioner this summer. You may actually be able to lower your thermostat a few degrees and utilize the ceiling fans to move air throughout the house.
    3. Install aftermarket radiant barrier roof decking products in your existing homes. New products have been created to make this possible. In the past, the products were primarily for new home construction.
    4. If your water heater doesn’t have a foam-insulated tank, install a water heater blanket. If your water heater is located inside your house, the blanket will reduce unnecessary heat gain into your home from the unit. If your heater is in the garage, the blanket will help prevent the water heater from heating your garage and neighbor’s yard this winter.
    5. Shade helps. Install patio covers, awnings and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun. For additional future savings, use strategically planted trees, shrubs and vines to shade your home. Always call JULIE (simply call 811 or 800-892-0123) before you dig to plant trees.
    6. Summer is guaranteed to heat up that attic. Did you know that during the summer your attic can get hotter than the desert? To keep that good old summer heat from toasting your house and draining your pocketbook, let’s add cellulose insulation NOW. If you have fiberglass insulation or less than nine inches of cellulose insulation in your attic, install additional cellulose insulation until you have at least 12 inches. Why cellulose, you ask? Simply put, cellulose, which is made from recycled newspapers, is sound proof, fire resistant, insect resistant and is the best choice for attic insulation. Not to mention it will make your home more comfortable.
    7. If at all possible, inspect all ductwork for leaks. You can do this by turning the thermostat to “fan on.” Dampen your finger and move it along your ductwork and feel for leaks. Start at the unit and go to the end of each section of duct. And if you are working in the attic, please remember to be careful so that you don’t fall through the ceiling. Many serious accidents occur while working in attics! Or you can have your ductwork checked by a qualified HVAC contractor and they can also make any needed repairs for you.
    8. Use compact fluorescent lights instead of incandescent lights. By simply replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 27-watt compact fluorescent light you can save about $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. Now, let’s see - $30 times four bulbs equals $120 saved. Duh – No-brainer! Oh, and they aren’t as hot. Remember that an Easy-Bake oven used a light bulb.
    9. Weather-strip, seal and caulk leaky doors and windows and install foam gaskets behind outlet covers. Look for spaces where plumbing comes through the floors or walls and seal those. In other words, if there’s a space where air can get in, caulk it, caulk it, caulk it!
    10. Unplug or recycle that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don’t really need it. This will save you up to $150 per year!

I hope you’ll consider making some of these basic improvements. If you do, you’ll notice the difference in the improved comfort of your home and the size of your utility bills.


More Information:

Doug Rye, a licensed architect and the popular host of the "Home Remedies" radio show, works as a consultant for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas to promote energy efficiency to cooperative members statewide. To order Doug's video, call Doug at 1-888-Doug-Rye. More energy-efficiency tips can also be found at


© 2008 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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