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Keep cool, save money wth A.C.

Rachael: We have central air conditioning, but we try to use it as little as possible, to save on our electric bills. Can you tell us the best ways to keep the house cool without air conditioning? Sure, that's fairly easily done, especially in Vermont where air conditioning is rarely needed. Here are some tips: In the cooler hours of the evening and early morning, open your windows. Use a window fan, blowing toward the outside, to pull cool air in through other windows and to push hot air out. During the day, close coverings on the windows that get direct sunlight. On hottest days, keep the windows closed. External awnings and trees also provide shade for windows. Delay heat- and/or humidity- producing activities, such as dishwashing, baking, showering, or doing laundry, until the cooler evening hours. Always use a bath fan when showering. Use an exhaust fan, directly to the outdoors, to blow hot air out of your kitchen while cooking. The savings in your cooling costs far outweigh the electricity use of the fan. Caulk around your window frames and exterior door frames and use weather stripping on exterior doors. Seal any holes and gaps between the attic and your living space and see that you have a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in the attic. Hiring a professional is the most effective approach to air sealing and insulation. You can find a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR certified contractor at www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeperformance. Be sure that the clothes dryer is vented to the outdoors. In addition to reducing heat in the summer, this is important year-round for indoor air quality and for preventing damage to your home from moisture, mold and mildew. Rachael Pendleton Fredericks is a business development specialist at Efficiency Vermont. To find more energy saving tips or to submit a new question about energy use in your home or business, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com/askrachael or call, toll-free: 888-921-5990 to speak with a customer service representative.

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