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Tips on lowering your summer energy costs

As the weather heats up, how can you get some relief and save money? Forecasters say the summer this year will be sweltering and energy costs skyrocketing. What can you do to keep things cool? Utility companies have lots of advice. Turn off your air conditioner when you're not at home. That will save up to 25 cents an hour on your electric bill. Keep your AC filters clean to keep cool air pouring in without wasting energy. Experts say set your thermostat at 78 degrees. Any lower and your cooling costs will increase by 6 per cent for each degree. Run appliances including ovens, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers early in the morning or late at night. Doing so when it's cool outside will reduce heat and moisture inside, taking up less energy -- and keeping your bill down, too. Experts also suggest that you use an electric fan to cool off. Fans use less electricity, and cost just one-tenth of what the regular AC does. Finally, turn off the lights. No light equals less heat, less energy -- and a lower bill. Elevating your thermostat a few degrees when you're not at home will also help cut your costs.

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