Energy efficiency in the summer starts with the home’s biggest energy user: air conditioning.

Regularly servicing your air conditioner and changing the air filters monthly can improve the appliance’s operation, extend its life and save you money while making your home more comfortable.

“Think of your house like a car and give your appliances general, preventative maintenance. They will work better and will last longer,” said Daniel Hogan, Supervisor of Residential Programs at Tucson Electric Power.

TEP offers customers multiple ways to better understand and improve their energy usage — from personalized energy-use reports to rebates for upgrading to high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® air conditioners.

“An energy inefficient home in the summer can be expensive — and uncomfortable,” Hogan said. “You’re paying good money to cool the air. You want to keep the cool air in and the warm air out — especially when it’s 100-plus degrees outside.”

Home weatherization measures such as caulking, weather-stripping and insulation can help keep your home more comfortable. Shut blinds, drapes and shades on windows that receive a lot of sunshine.

To cut air conditioning usage, turn on ceiling fans in occupied rooms.

During the summer, avoid using the oven, which adds a lot of heat to the inside of the home. Cook outdoors instead.

For homes with swimming pools, an easy way to cut energy is to run the pool less but sweep it more often to help the filter be more effective when it’s in use.

Hang clothes outside to dry, especially pool towels and swimsuits.

When vacationing, turn the setting on the air conditioner up (about 10 degrees) and turn the water heater’s temperature down (most have vacation settings). Unless you live in an ENERGY STAR home, avoid turning the AC off entirely.

“You don’t want the inside of your home to get too hot. It takes a lot of energy to cool the mass of your home’s walls once they are allowed to heat up,” said Mike Baruch, TEP’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program Manager.

Planting low-cost shade trees can help you save on cooling costs and beautify your neighborhood at the same time. TEP customers can purchase the shade trees at a discounted rate through the popular Trees for You program.

Participants can select from desert-adaptive trees that are low water users, fast growers and provide a sizable canopy. Mesquite, Palo Verde and Desert Willows are among the most popular choices.

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