Hot tips on how to save on your air-conditioning bill

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The U.S. Department of Energy says that the cost of heating and cooling a house typically amounts to 56 percent of the utility bill. Given that, I'm lucky that the air-conditioning in my house has been broken the last couple days. Unfortunately, according to a repairman we called in, it'll be fixed sometime today. But on the bright side, my back soon won't stick to my chair any more.

Anyway, for those of you who aren't lucky enough to shell out $450 to get your air-conditioning fixed, I've culled the Internet to bring you the following tips for saving money on your home energy costs.

Change your air filters. It's probably obvious, but if your filter is clogged with dust and lint, your air-conditioner has to work even harder.Don't turn off the air-conditioning during the day. This surprised me, but as one guy who owns an air-conditioning and heating repair company told The Dothan Eagle, you're saving energy until you turn it back on--and then the air-conditioning has to work extra hard to get the air back to what your thermostat is. It's better to turn the air on a couple of degrees higher than your ideal temperature; then the air-conditioner will cycle on and off.

Considering getting your air-conditioning unit or system serviced once a year, or at least once every two years. Gee, shocking, but a lot of air-conditioning repairmen tend to suggest this. Still, it makes sense, and some utility companies will offer rebate coupons to encourage you to have your air-conditioned checked out. Southern California Edison is offering rebates from $50 to $150 right now, so if you're thinking that this makes sense, contact your local electric company first and see if they're doing anything like this.

Make sure your condenser coils on your air-conditioning are clean, and make sure your ducts are sealed. That's according, again, to California Edison. I'm going to do that later today, just as soon as I figure out what my condenser coils and ducts look like.

Plant trees.
That's a fairly well known tip but worth mentioning. You can put a serious dent in your bill if much of your house is in shade, and your air-conditioning doesn't have to expend as much energy. Of course, you'll have to expend some of your own energy to plant those trees, which means you'll likely go back into your house and crank up the A/C. Life is a vicious circle.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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