Beating the heat doesnít have to be expensive

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY ó Homeowners and renters can do some simple things to save on utility bills as the temperatures rise.
Mark Stout, owner of Stout Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., says, ěThe main thing is keeping the air unit serviced. We rarely recommend less than twice a year.î
Stout suggests maintenance on the whole system, but he said cleaning the coils will make the unit more efficient.
Stout also recommended cleaning and draining the lines to prevent water leaks, as well as changing filters regularly.
ěCustomers really need to check it monthly,î he said.
The thing that can make a big difference in cooling costs is to check areas around doors and windows where air can escape.
For residents thinking ěgreen,î Stout advises programmable thermostats, which he said, ěin the long run definitely pay for themselves.î
Also, if the equipment is more than 14 years old, you should prepare to upgrade, Stout said.
Homeowners can receive tax credits for making improvements, whether it be for window installation or air conditioning units. The credit goes from $50 up to $300.
For more on ways to save with energy efficient products that provide tax credits, go to
Duke Energy offered these other tips for controlling your utility bills:
Set the air conditioner to the highest comfortable setting. ěAdjusting your thermostat up a few degrees will have a significant impact on your cooling bill,î Duke Energy said. A change from 73 degrees to 76 degrees ó 24 hours a day ó could save 30 percent on summer cooling costs.
Circulate the air to create a wind chill with ceiling or oscillating fans. This can make the air in the home feel much cooler, but uses much less electricity.
Use the dishwasher, washer and dryer during the cooler parts of the day, such as the early morning and late evening hours.
Shut off devices that use electricity even when they are turned off such as cell phone chargers, computers and other household electronics.
Together these energy zappers can account for up to 20 percent of an electric bill.
For more tips visit www. duke-energy. com/north-carolina/savings/lower-your-bill.asp.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.