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Make your air conditioning dollars go farther

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Make your air conditioning dollars go farther this summer.

When temperatures rise outside, it's natural to seek cool shelter indoors. For many people, that means flipping on the air conditioning unit and taking it easy. Keeping the air cool is more than a luxury for some families; elderly parents and young children cannot tolerate excessively high temperatures. However, the need for air conditioning puts many families at financial risk. A pricey combination of rising fuel costs and high electrical demand make summertime electric bills hard to manage.

According to Energy Star, the American family pays nearly $1,000 a year on heating and cooling their homes; that figure is above other electrical costs! You don't have to risk exposing your loved ones to brutal heat to save money. Take advantage of some money-saving tips and beat the summer heat.

-- Help circulate cool air through the home by placing an oscillating fan in family rooms, like a living room or dining room.

-- Keep the temperature at constant temperature and avoid dropping the thermostat too low. Lowering the temperature costs you money and won't cool the home any faster.

-- Raise the thermostat 2 to 3 degrees before you leave for work if no one will be home. The energy experts at APS say that moving the temperature up 5 degrees for eight hours a day can save you $3 to $5 a month.

-- Install a whole house fan system. Whole house fans pull the hot attic air out of the home and keeps the air circulating, giving your home a cooling effect. This move could chill your home by a few degrees.

-- Replace old air conditioning units. If your window unit is a decade old, it needs to be replaced with an energy efficient unit. If your home has central AC, have the thermostat calibrated and the system charged yearly. APS says homeowners should replace their older SEER units (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) to save energy bucks. Replacing a unit with a SEER rating of 10 with one that has an 18 SEER rating you could save up to 50% on your AC costs annually.

-- Change the air conditioning filters regularly; once a month is suitable. Good air flow across the filter will cut down on cooling costs and stop allergens from floating around your home. FPL Energy Services say that air filters cost between $10 and $25 a piece, but replacing them can save you 5 to 15 percent on your monthly bill.

-- Hang insulated curtains in your windows. Sheer curtains look nice, but they don't provide any barrier between you and the outdoor heat. Keep windows covered during hot afternoons.

Also, do a walk through of your home while the air is on. Check for leaks around windows and doors. Sometimes your energy dollars simply float out the window!

For more money-saving tips on your utility bills, watch this:

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