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    There may not be a bigger electricity hog in your house than the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system. Changing how and how much you consume conditioned air can have a major impact on your electric bill.

    Here are some suggestions for way to reduce your electric bill by way of your HVAC unit:

    • Keep your thermostat on the "auto" setting for best economy and humidity control. Adjust temperature settings as needed through the year.
    • Open all the system vents. HVAC units are designed to condition air throughout the entire system. Your central air unit is designed to cool a home when all the doors are open. Closing vents hamper the unit's operation and may cause to cycle on more often than necessary.
    • Check system ductwork periodically and fix as needed to avoid heating or air conditioning the attic and other spaces unnecessarily.
    • Install gasket seals behind light switch plates and electric outlets to prevent air leaks.
    • Keep your fireplace damper closed when not in use.
    • Change HVAC filters on a regular basis. Even though some filters are rated for "up to 90 days," check them at least every 30 days and replace if needed.
    • Keep the thermostat set at the threshold of your comfort level. Recommended settings are 70 degrees for heating and 78 degrees for cooling. A single degree above or below can affect the electric bill by up to ten percent.
    • Install ceiling fans and use them throughout the year. Run them counterclockwise in the hot months to circulate and conserve cool air and clockwise in the cold months to pull heat air down into the living space.
    • Use a programmable thermostat that self-adjusts to match your daily routine, or manually adjust the thermostat when you will be away from home or are going to bed.
    • Install or replace weather stripping on windows and doors and use thermal insulated curtains on windows to reduce loss of heated air through leakage.
    • Take advantage of window blinds. Keep them closed during the day in the hot months to avoid heating rooms unnecessarily; open them in the cold months to boost heating.

    Finally, when the weather allows, open the windows and let the fresh air set the temperature in your home. Your electricity usage will drop dramatically!

    Another potential electricity hog is your water heater. Up to 10 percent of your household electricity is used to heat water. Here are some steps you can take to keep the water heater working most efficiently:

    • Check the heat setting on the unit and adjust if needed. The recommended setting is 120 degrees.
    • Wrap the unit in a layer of insulation. Be sure to wrap in a way that still allows you to you can access the necessary controls.
    • Installing a low flow shower head will decrease the amount of hot water needed, in turn decreasing the amount of work the unit needs to do.

    Effective management of the heating and cooling of your air and water will have a noticeable downward effect on your electric bill. Implementing just a few of these suggestions will produce results for you.