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Six Ways to Save Money and Stay Cool

Air conditioning, along with heating, is among the most expensive uses of energy in your home.

With the hot summer months upon us, here are some simple steps to take to reduce your cooling costs and save a bit of money:

1. Check Your Cooling System

Get your cooling system checked if it hasn't been serviced in awhile. While it will cost money to have someone come out and check your system, it will ensure that your system is running properly and efficiently so you aren't wasting money the entire summer.

It will also greatly decrease the likelihood of having problems in the middle of the summer, when repairmen are busiest and charging the most. Take the time to ask how often you need to replace the filter (usually every month) and have them teach you how to replace it so you can do it yourself.

2. Have an Energy Audit

Do you know which parts of your house are costing you the most to cool or heat? Having an energy audit done will help you determine where air is escaping, causing your system to work overtime.

Many energy companies will come out free of charge or for a small fee and do an audit of your entire house. Call your local utility company or visit its Web site to see whether it offers this service.

If your local utility doesn't offer an energy audit, you can do it yourself over the Internet with Home Energy Saver , which will give you information and comparable energy-use statistics for homes in your area. If your costs are significantly higher than other homes, hiring someone to come out for an energy audit -- even at full cost -- probably makes sense.

If done by your utility company or a professional, an energy audit will provide you with information on the steps that you can take to plug the leaks and a cost analysis of how long it will take for the fixes to pay for themselves.

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