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Beat the heat: How to save on energy bills this summer

COLUMBUS – Residential consumers can save money on their energy bills while staying cool this summer. That’s the message the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) will share with fairgoers at its booth in the Marketplace building at the 2010 Ohio State Fair through Aug. 8.

“Applying some no-cost and low-cost energy efficiency tips can save energy and money while keeping consumers comfortable in their homes and apartments,” said Consumers’ Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander. “It is truly a ‘win-win’ for customers looking to save money while staying cool. We look forward to meeting thousands of consumers at this year’s Ohio State Fair.”

The OCC’s Beat the Heat theme includes a wheel where consumers can answer an energy efficiency-related question. The OCC also has plenty of publications available, including its “Beat the Heat Summer Cooling Tips” fact sheet.

Among the OCC’s suggestions:

• Blocking heat from reaching the home. Shading works most efficiently when it blocks the heat before it reaches a consumer’s home. Exterior shading is best created by planting trees and shrubs around the home, preferably on the south and southwest sides. Interior shading includes blinds, drapes and window treatments. Another way to block outside heat is to insulate the attic and walls of the home. Using a thin, plastic film that sticks to windows blocks the heat while letting the light in. Finally, a no-cost option is to reduce the number of appliances and lights used during the warmest part of the day.

• Using fans. Consumers can enhance air conditioning with the use of fans. Fans create breezes and move air from one area to another. To save energy, turn off fans when leaving a room. Using fans during mild weather and at night can save up to 50 percent in cooling costs and reduce the need to use an air conditioner.

• Using air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Air conditioners are an easy way to cool a room or home and are best if used with other cooling methods. When using an air conditioner, do not set the thermostat lower than the desired temperature. The recommended temperature is 78 degrees. Raising the temperature 5 degrees for eight hours can lower a household’s electric bill by as much as 10 percent. Using a fan with the air conditioner can help better circulate the cooler air.

• Controlling use of heat producers. Keep heat producers away from the thermostat and turn off unnecessary heat-producing devices, such as incandescent light bulbs and electronics, including computers. Use a microwave instead of a conventional oven. Don’t use a dishwasher’s dry cycle; instead, let the dishes air dry. Wash and dry clothes when the day is cool and air dry them when possible.

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts. The state agency also educates consumers about electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues and resolves complaints from individuals. To receive utility information, brochures, schedule a presentation or file a utility complaint, residential consumers may call 1-877-PICKOCC (1- 877-742-5622) toll free in Ohio or visit the OCC website at www.

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