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Keeping the home cool during the summer months doesn’t have to break the bank. (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University.)

When it comes to reducing home cooling costs during the summer, some people think adjusting the thermostat is all they can do.

Fortunately, there are several things that can help put a dent in the cost of keeping a home cool, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“We all know Oklahoma summers can be hot. Luckily, consumers don’t have to break the bank with cooling costs,” she said, offering tips to help keep utility bill as low as possible.

For example, efficient thermostat operations can make a huge difference. Set the thermostat to 78 degrees when at home and use fans to keep cool while spending less. Obviously, in the Oklahoma heat a fan cannot replace the air conditioner, but Peek said ceiling fans and oscillating fans can help circulate cool air in your home. This is especially important when the humidity is high. Turn the fan off when leaving the home. Fans cool people—not rooms—through a wind chill effect.

She also suggested making sure hot air isn’t leaking into the home. Seal cracks and openings, and use weather-stripping around doors and windows.

Homeowners should schedule regular maintenance to make certain the air conditioning system is in tip-top shape. A maintenance checkup could help avoid a big problem later on, also. Make sure the air ducts in your home are properly insulated, especially those that pass through the attic or any other non-air conditioned areas.

“It could be cost effective to have a specialist come in to check for holes or leaks in the ductwork,” she said. “To help ensure air flow, make sure furniture does not obstruct the air conditioning vents. Close off unused rooms and close vents in those rooms. Vacuum registers from time to time, and remember to change the HVAC air filter.”

Take care not to add heat with appliances and lighting. For example, use the cooktop or grill outside instead of using the oven. Peek said that while natural light is refreshing, the sun’s heat pouring through the windows can raise the temperature in your home. Keep blinds and drapes closed during the day to help block heat.

“While you’ll probably see some sort of increase in your utility bills during the summer months, utilizing these tips will help consumers stay cool without breaking the bank,” Peek said.

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