WASHINGTON - With summer right around the corner, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering advice to help Americans reduce their energy bills. “A few simple changes will help create real reductions in high summer electric bills and provide a hefty cut in greenhouse gas emissions in the bargain,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

The following are tips from the EPA that HVAC contractors can pass along to customers to help them save energy at home and at work:

• Set your programmable thermostat to save while away or asleep. Using it properly can save up to $180 per year in energy costs.

• Run ceiling fans in a clockwise direction to create a wind-chill effect that will make you “feel” cooler. Remember that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms - so turn them off when leaving the room.

• Inspect your duct system for obvious signs of leaks and disconnections (most houses leak 20 percent or more). Seal any leaks with foil tape or with duct mastic. Also consider insulating ducts in unconditioned areas (like the attic, basement, or crawlspace).

• Seal air leaks around your home to keep the heat out and the cool air in. The biggest air leaks are usually found in the attic or basement, but also come in around doors, windows, vents, pipes, and electrical outlets. Use caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping to seal the leaks. And add more insulation to keep your home cooler this summer.

• Maintain your cooling system. Check your system’s air filter every month at a minimum and change the filter every three months. Remove leaves, dirt, and other debris from around the outdoor unit to improve airflow and efficiency. Have a qualified professional tune-up your system with a pre-season maintenance checkup and, if it’s time to replace your old system, look for models that have earned EPA’s Energy Star.

• Turn off office lights and equipment when not in use so they don’t generate unnecessary heat.

• Replace incandescent light bulbs in your desk lamp with Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs which use two-thirds less energy and generate less heat than conventional bulbs.

For more tips on to how to save energy at home, visit www.energystar.gov. For more tips on how to save energy at work, visit www.energystar.gov/bizcooling.

Publication date:05/25/2009