Stretching your dollar... Save money, stay cool

By Maureen O'Boyle - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC  (WBTV) - We're in a bit of a cool snap this week, but you know the heat is coming.  WBTV is On Your Side helping you stretch your dollar and save on your power bill.

First, start on the outside of your home.  Make sure there are 18 to 20 inches of clear ground around the outside motor.   If you let ground cover and plantings grow too close to the unit, it blocks the coils and makes your system work harder.

Inside your home, look at the thermostat.  Try to raise the temperature to as high as you can while still feeling comfortable.  One suggestion is to raise the temperature one degree daily to let your body adjust.  Programmable thermostats are more energy efficient and some estimate they can save $100 annually.  They allow you to adjust the temperature according to your work schedule or when you will actually be home.  You should only turn off the system if you are going to be away from the house for six hours or more.  Turning a system off and on can cost more in the long run, according to Walt Adcock from Love Plumbing and Heating.

Fans will help circulate your cool air, so put them to work.  Air moving across your body makes you feel 5 to 10 degrees cooler, according to Adcock.

Filters are what separate you from the cool air.  So if your filters are dirty, they can't do the work.  Adcock says a dirty filter will make the system work harder to deliver that cool air.

The harder your system has to work, the more power it uses and the more money you'll have to pay.

Remember, the most important thing is to call your local heating and air conditioning company to schedule a yearly maintenance checkup to keep your unit running in top shape.