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Making a few minor changes in your daily habits can help you reduce your need for air-conditioning and add to energy savings during the dog days of summer. Try incorporating several of these tips into your daily routine.

Take advantage of windows

  1. Try a few tests to find out which win- dows will maximize natural ventila- tion. Wind creates areas of positive and negative pressure around your house, so the windows near upwind areas will be cool air inlets and the windows near suction areas will be warm air outlets.
  2. Force air to take a longer path be- tween windows, so more of your house will be cooled. Don’t locate inlet windows and outlet win- dows directly opposite each other, because only the area in between them will be cooled.
  3. Create a stronger air current with slightly opened windows, instead of ones that are fully opened.
  4. Close windows and doors during the hottest part of the day. If your house is well-tightened and insu- lated, your inside rooms should stay relatively cool during mid- to late-afternoon hours.
  5. Open windows on cool, low-hu- midity nights to flush out heat that builds up during the day. Leave windows closed when the humidity is high, or your air conditioner will have to work extra-hard.

Keep the heat out of living areas

  1. Keep interior lights dimmed or turned off during daylight hours. Turning on a table lamp for read- ing in a darkened room is a better choice than letting the sun stream in through a south or west window. On the other hand, north or east windows could provide enough light without significantly adding to the heat gain in an individual room.
  2. Stop the sun’s warmth before it gets into your home by closing inside blinds and curtains during the day; light colors will reflect the most heat.
  3. Turn off or unplug the television, entertainment equipment and computer when not in use. Many of these devices consume power and produce heat in the standby mode, so unplug them if you won’t be us- ing them for several days. The only way to turn off the power supply for a device such as a cordless phone or cable TV box is to unplug it.

Kitchen and laundry – play it smart

  1. Choose your most energy-efficient appliances for cooking. Instead of using your stove or oven, use your microwave or a countertop appli- ance such as a toaster oven, slow cooker or steamer.
  2. Cover pots and pans on the cook- top or stove. Cooking creates lots of heat and humidity, so contain it as much as possible.
  3. Start the exhaust fan. Vent steam and heat from cooking to the out- doors. However, don’t run an ex- haust fan longer than necessary; in one hour, an exhaust fan can blow a house full of cooled air outside.
  4. Run your dishwasher late at night. Start the dishwasher when you go to bed. If it has a timer, set the dishwasher to run during nonpeak hours in the middle of the night.
  5. Use cold water for cooking. Heating the water on your stove or cooktop consumes less energy than using hot water from your water heater— especially if doing so causes your water heater to cycle.
  6. Check the temperatures in the refrig- erator and freezer. The temperatures should run 38°-40° F. in the refrigera- tor and 0°-5° F. in the freezer. Setting colder temperature levels wastes en- ergy and makes these heat-producing appliances run too often.
  7. Look at the dryer’s lint trap, duct- ing and exterior vent frequently, to make sure they’re clear. Excessive lint buildup can make your dryer run longer.
  8. Dry clothes on an outdoor clothes- line. Wet clothes on an indoor clothesline will add humidity to your home and increase the load on your air-conditioning system.
  9. Select cold water for wash loads. If you need to wash a warm- or hot- water load, run it during the late- evening or early-morning hours.
  10. Wash only full loads. If you don’t have enough clothes for a full load, set the washer’s water level to match the load’s size.

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