Cool Savings: Expert offers tips on air conditioning

Bruce Snead, K-State Research and Extension residential energy specialist, answers questions about holding down cooling costs this summer.

Q: What’s the best temperature to set my thermostat?

A: Pick a comfortable temperature. Be aware, however, that unnecessary cooling can be costly, as homeowners can save 1 to 3 percent of their cooling costs for each degree of higher setting on their thermostat.

Q: I’m not always home, but I want the house cool when I get there. What can I do?

A: Install a programmable thermostat to cool the home when needed, and reduce cooling when away from the home. In Kansas, customers of Westar are encouraged to consider a WattSaver Program offering a free programmable thermostat to improve energy efficiency and reduce cooling costs.

Q: Servicing my air conditioner is costly. Is it worth the money?

A: There is a cost to a service call, but a savings as well, if a routine inspection reveals potential problems before a breakdown occurs. Regularly scheduled maintenance also helps to maintain the efficiency of the system and can prolong its length of service.

Q: What are some easy steps to take to save over the long term?

A: Indoors, keep blinds or other window coverings closed during the day. Outside, plant shade trees to shield a home from the sun; the trees will need time to grow, and, in the interim, plant vines on a trellis to shield windows from the sun.

Q: Any other advice?

A: Invest in a home energy audit to see if adding insulation, caulking, weather stripping, etc., will result in a savings. For more information, go online to efficiencykansas.com to learn about a low-cost energy audit and loan program to improve energy efficiency.

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