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Staying Cool and Green This Summer

No one likes to fight the heat all summer, but did you know the typical household spends nearly 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling? So taking steps to reduce the need to cool your home can save money and energy. 

“Our Growing Green program is focused primarily on campus operations, but what we do at home can also reduce energy consumption and be more sustainable,” said Melissa Lucas, sustainability and energy manager at UMass Chan. 

To that end, here are some tips from the federal government’s ENERGY STAR program to help you keep cool this summer - while also saving electricity and reducing your carbon footprint.

  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat, if you don’t already have one. Used properly, programmable thermostats can save about $180 a year in energy costs.
  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees when no one is home, so you don’t cool an empty house. Better yet, keep the temperature a bit higher all the time to save energy.
  • Change the filter in your HVAC system at least every three months, and more often if needed. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system run longer to keep you cool.
  • Pull curtains and shades closed before you leave your home and during the hottest times of the day to keep the sun’s rays from heating the inside of your home.
  • Have your HVAC system serviced and tuned each year to keep it running at maximum efficiency.
  • Switch from incandescent light bulbs to ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Not only do they use less electricity, they also produce about 75 percent less heat than traditional bulbs.
  • Seal your air ducts. As much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home’s duct system could be lost due to leaks and poor connections.
  • Buy ENERGY STAR qualified room air conditioners. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, if every room air conditioner in the United States were ENERGY STAR qualified, they would prevent 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually – equivalent to the emissions from 80,000 cars.
  • Insulate your attic. More than $1.8 billion in energy costs could be saved each year if every U.S. household did so.
  • Install a whole house ventilating fan in your attic or an upstairs window. Under the right conditions, such a fan could cool and ventilate your entire house for about what it costs to run one room air conditioner, according to Consumer Reports.
  • Request an energy audit from MassSave. MassSave through your local electric or gas utility provides free energy audits of your home and pays for 75 percent of the improvement costs up to $2,000. 

    For more energy-saving tips and information, visit  and  
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