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BBB tips: How to stay cool during heat wave

Although it’s not officially summer yet, the Southern Piedmont is in the middle of a heat wave this week. High temperatures above 90 degrees could cause problems with air conditioning units and may result in higher than normal utility bills.
The BBB has advice for how you can stay cool during the hot weather.
“Air conditioning units can be the most expensive equipment in your home,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy. “Given the large number of contractors and companies that provide air conditioning service, it is important to distinguish between the good and the bad.”
“In the past 36 months, consumers have checked out air conditioning services with the BBB more than 165,000 times,” Bartholomy said. “However, consumers have only filed 283 complaints during the same time period because they are doing their research to find a company they can trust.”
Emergency service — If your air conditioning unit breaks and you need emergency service, the BBB has these tips:
• Check out air conditioning contractors with the BBB. It only takes a few minutes to find a reliable company with a good track record for service.
• Make sure that the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured.
• Be wary of unsolicited offers and high pressure sales pitches for air conditioning systems, windows and roofing.
• Don’t fall for devices and products that promise drastic reductions in home energy costs.
High utility bills — High temperatures also mean high utility bills. “Many people go without air conditioning because they can’t afford it,” said Bartholomy. “Unfortunately, extreme heat can be deadly.”
If you cannot afford to pay your utility bills, the BBB has this advice:
• Ask your utility company about an annualized billing plan to avoid spikes in your bills during extremely hot or cold months.
• If you are on a fixed income and have trouble paying your utility bills, contact your utility company to find out about emergency assistance plans.
• Get help. Nonprofit organizations help low-income individuals pay their utility bills.
Home maintenance — The BBB has these tips for making your home more energy-efficient year round:
• Have your air conditioning system inspected and serviced each year.
• Check your attic, garage and basement to make sure your home is well-insulated.
• Clean or replace air conditioning filters on a regular basis.
• Install a programmable thermostat and keep your home at a set temperature.
For more information, please visit BBB or call the BBB toll-free in N.C. and S.C. at 1-877-317-7236.

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