Summer is surely upon us by now, and your electric meter is likely spinning around with reckless abandon, calculating every kilowatt. Since electric rates aren’t getting any lower, how can you keep your home cool this summer and not use so much electricity?

Setting your thermostat a little higher will help. Raising the temperature setting on your thermostat just one or two degrees can make a real difference in electricity usage. If your thermostat has a “set-back” feature, you can program it to keep your air conditioning at higher settings at various times during the day and night.

Adding insulation in your attic is one of the least expensive ways to reduce your cooling costs. This may be a job that some homeowners may want to do themselves, or your could hire an insulation contractor do it for you. Ceiling fans are another inexpensive way to help you to feel cooler.

To make sure that your cooling system is working properly, have a maintenance service performed to insure that the refrigerant levels are correct, and the condenser coil is clean. The filter should be replaced, or cleaned. Spending a little to make sure your system is producing all of the cold air it was designed to, can help a lot.

If your equipment is more than 10 to 15 years old it’s time to start thinking about upgrading to new, high efficiency equipment. Recently enacted federal laws have mandated that all new air conditioning units must achieve at least 13 SEER. If your old system was rated at 8 SEER, a new 13 SEER system could reduce your electric bill by $250.00 a year, or more. Units with higher SEER ratings can save you even more money.

Most older heating and cooling systems that I have seen typically have ducting that is undersized. This is a common problem as there are no local codes specific to the sizing of ducts. So even if a city inspector were to check the job when it is installed, they have no authority to make sure that ducts conform to industry-accepted sizing guidelines. Ducting that is undersized will cause any system to run longer than it should, costing significantly more to operate.

Homeowners really need to look at the big picture. Oh, you can have a new, high efficiency air conditioning unit installed, but if the other components don’t match, or the ducting is too small, you can forget about those big bucks that you were hoping to save.

For even more detailed information about heating and air conditioning, join me at our next Homeowners Workshop. Any questions will be addressed, so bring your list. There is no cost, so bring your friends, neighbors, and relatives. If you are interested in attending, call Alex at (818) 886-2600 to make a reservation, as space is limited. Join us for coffee and a snack for a couple of hours and you’ll take home a few extra calories, and some really useful information. You can also pick up your free copy of The Heating and Air Conditioning Buyers Guide for 2007. We will be showcasing the new Honeywell Residential HEPA filtration system.

Jim Berry was a heating and air conditioning service technician prior to becoming a Sales Consultant for Kahn Air Conditioning. Kahn hosts free monthly workshops to help homeowners learn more about heating and air conditioning systems. For any questions regarding heating or air conditioning, send an e-mail to Jim at The best question submitted by e-mail this month wins a Sees gift Certificate.

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