Tips for staying cool in a heat wave

    In spite of the hot, humid weather, you can follow these tips to stay cool without breaking the bank

    During our current heat wave, with the heat index expected to reach at least 100 degrees this week, MyCentralJersey.com has compiled tips for staying cool from Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) — the state’s larges utility company, based in Newark — and Somerville Aluminum, a home remodeling company based in Branchburg.

    Use a programmable thermostat to set air conditioners to your daily and weekend schedule. Consider setting air conditioners to 78 degrees, health permitting. An ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat can save you a significant amount of money over a long, hot summer.

    Close blinds, shades and draperies facing the sun to keep the sun’s heat out and help fans and air conditioners cool more efficiently. Do this in the morning before the heat sets in, and then open them at night to flush your house with cooler air.

    Use ceiling fans set in the counterclockwise position to feel cooler when in a room. For summer use, ceiling fans can cool a room more efficiently than an air conditioner. In the winter, reverse the blades on the ceiling fans to force the heated air down from the ceiling.

    Close doors leading to uncooled parts of your home. With central air, close off vents to unused rooms.

    Turn off everything you’re not using, such as lights, TVs, computers. Use dimmers, timers and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.

    Delay heat-producing tasks such as washing and drying laundry or dishes until later in the day, and wait until load is full.

    Refrain from using nonessential appliances. Unplug or use only when necessary an extra refrigerator in your garage.

    Change the filters in your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system. Dirty filters contribute to indoor air pollution and increase energy costs by making your HVAC work harder.

    If you have an outside air-conditioning unit, remove any debris that may have accumulated. Also, consider trimming or removing plants, leaves or high grass that is close to the unit. These could have a negative impact on your unit.

    Check your windows and doors for any leaks. Leaky windows and doors let hot outdoor air in while allowing cool indoor air to escape. The result is your HVAC has to work harder and your energy bills go up.

    Check your ductwork for any leaks. Leaking ductwork accounts for 25 percent of cooling costs in an average home. Have your ducts tested and have any leaks repaired by a certified contractor.

    Test your system by setting your thermostat to cool and turn down the temperature. The air conditioner should start cooling your home; if it doesn’t, that means there’s a problem. Call a professional to inspect.

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