How to cut costs while keeping cool this summer

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- If the soaring temperatures have you reaching for the thermostat, you may want to resist the urge.

You can save as much as 15 percent on your bill just by lowering the thermostat a few degrees. The biggest use of consumption for a typical homeowner in the Houston area is the air conditioner, accounting for about 30 percent of a home's total energy.

"It's because of our climate. We have moisture laded atmosphere humid so your AC is really doing two jobs - cooling the air, but also removing the humidity from the air," said Centerpoint Energy's program manager David Dzierski.

When it comes to energy efficiency, all it takes is a simple test that professionals can do to show just how much a home is leaking.

"The more you can tighten up the house, the more efficient it will become, the less energy you will use, thereby saving money," said Dzierski.

Caulking and weather stripping can help significantly. If the home is older, Dzierski says there is a high chance the duct work is leaking too.

"A lot of that just translates into cold air going into your attic and not your house, costing you money," Dzierski said.

Making sure the attic is sealed properly and has good insulation can save 20 to 35 percent in heating and cooling costs.

Another culprit causing the AC to work overtime is lights. If you take the time to count how many are in your home, it may surprise you. Each of those bulbs produce a lot of heat, especially incandescent bulbs.

Recessed can lights and desk lamps can also play a huge role, often times producing 90 percent heat and only 10 percent light.

When we swapped an incandescent bulb with a new LED one, it made a huge difference.

"It's only showing 86 degrees, so significantly less heat. So the idea is you get more light with less heat," Dzierski said.

Make sure you keep your air filters clean. Dirty filters can increase energy usage and cause your AC to work harder.

A bigger project to consider is upgrading your thermostat.

"That's an excellent way for you to save money in your house. If you can program your thermostat and get it on your schedule, it's not going to run when you're not at home," Dzierski said.

Now, new technology allows you to operate your thermostat wherever you are.

If you have a pool in the backyard, Centerpoint recommends putting the pump on a timer for 4 to 6 hours instead of running it 24/7.

If you are a Centerpoint customer, they offer free and discounted AC tune ups with the Cool Saver Program.

If you do not have Centerpoint, but would still like an AC tune up, contact Texan Inspection home inspection services.

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