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Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Jay Gregg, the Director of Marketing with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: As a homeowner, how can I keep my energy costs low while keeping my house in great condition?

A: August is typically one of the hottest months of the year. It seems like the only logical way to stay comfortable inside is to crank up the air conditioning and sit in front of the air vent. However, this method shoots up the energy bill and can take a toll on the cooling systems in a house. Instead of running the air conditioning throughout the hottest months of the year, there are simple tips to keep the energy costs down, and at the same time, keep the value of the home up. By following these tips, much less stress will be put on the home, paving the way for a smoother home inspection when the time comes.

Keeping the House Cool
Open windows at night: It usually cools off during the night. By keeping the windows open, the naturally cool air can take the place of an air conditioning unit. During the day, keep the windows and blinds closed to capture the cool air and hold it longer throughout the day. It may be tempting to open the blinds to let in the sunshine, but this will also let in a lot of heat.

Seal window and door cracks: Cracks in the windows and doors can allow warm air to seep inside and raise the air temperature. By sealing the cracks around the windows and the doors, cool air can remain trapped inside.

Take advantage of ceiling fans: Ceiling fans are a great way to keep the house cool. Along with trapping in the cool air at night, using ceiling fans during the day can help keep the air circulating throughout the house. Using standing fans is another inexpensive tool.

Keep the thermostat high: It’s difficult to resist the temptation to bump the thermostat down to 65 and just sit back and relax. But keeping the thermostat high and using ceiling fans as mentioned above will save more money in the long run.

Keeping the house at a cooler temperature is certainly important in the summer, but saving energy is necessary all year round. With these methods, it is possible to decrease stress on all of the intricate systems that keep a house standing. This also means better home inspections in the winter months.

Save Energy All the Time
Use the microwave:
There is no other way to cook and save more energy than by using a microwave. Aside from being fast, microwaves use a third of the energy to cook the same food when compared to a stove.

Avoid using appliances during peak hours: The peak hours of the day are typically during daily business hours when there is a very high demand of electricity. If possible, avoid using appliances such as the washer, dryer and dishwasher during those times to avoid power surges. Also, keep in mind that it is more efficient to wash clothes at night. If the weather outside is nice, drying clothes on a clothesline is free. This not only saves energy, but it keeps the home in better condition.

The dishwasher is more efficient than hand washing: Believe it or not, washing the dishes in the dishwasher saves more water than hand washing. However, don’t use the dry setting on the dishwasher. Instead, put the dishes on a dry rack and let them air dry or use a towel.

Turn off lights and appliances: Turning off the lights when leaving a room is an easy way to conserve energy and it’s not difficult to remember. Yet, turning off appliances and electronics when not in use is a little harder to keep in mind. By simply turning off the home desktop computer or television, a lot of energy can be saved. Even unplugging those things can make an impact.

Stock the fridge: It’s not practical to turn off the refrigerator and unplug it during peak hours. But there are ways to make it run more efficiently. By stocking a lot of food in the refrigerator, the warming process slows down when the door is open, thus trapping the cool air inside and allowing the refrigerator to work less.

Get rid of old light bulbs: Traditional incandescent light bulbs have been around for more than a century and the technology really hasn’t advanced until the last few years. In fact, 90 percent of the energy needed to light the bulb is lost in the form of heat. In order to keep up with the demands of a modern house, different options are needed. Energy-saving incandescent light bulbs can save up to 25 percent of the energy. And compact fluorescent lamps and light emitting diodes can save almost 75 percent!

Some of these things may come as a surprise, but the real shock is how much they can help the upkeep on your home.

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