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Keeping cool in the dog days of summer

By John Kirchner July 26, 2010

Just as January often tests the quality of a home’s insulation and heating, August tends to be the month of truth for a home’s cooling systems.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Americans spend on average 7 percent of their annual income on utilities. It’s no wonder we’re always looking for ways to save a few dollars, especially in the warmest summer month where the utility bill — and the heat — can keep you up late at night.

Tom Kraeutler, host of The Money Pit, recently shared a list of economical tips and tricks to help you keep your utility bill low as the temperatures rise. Here are a few items often overlooked:

  • If your air conditioning equipment is getting old (and therefore less efficient), you might actually make money by trading up to Energy Star-qualified AC units and systems. Installing a new system now can compound your summer energy savings with valuable tax credits and local utility rebates that are available until the end of this year.
  • Seal all duct seams to keep that hard-earned cool air from escaping into dead ends. As much as 20 percent of circulating air is lost to leaks and faulty connections, but a bit of your time and some mastic sealant or metal (UL 181) tape is all it takes to seal ducts in attics, basements and crawlspaces.
  • Strategic landscaping will have your home made in the shade, so add and maintain trees on the south and west sides to help shelter and shield the sunniest sides of the structure.

If you haven’t the time for a landscaping job or AC replacement before the next heat wave, think smaller.

Check out the latest product from Dyson – the Air Multiplier. These bladeless fans draw in air from the base and amplify it 15 to 18 times. This product has drawn a lot of buzz at tradeshows with its sleek design and unique function. Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “It functions beautifully and looks great too. This thing is flat-out brilliant.”

To show how the product works, the team at Dyson created this video which shows the device drawing and amplifying air. Check it out: