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Beat the heat on the cheap

Summer is approaching, with highs of 90 or above in the forecast tomorrow and several days next week. As a result, you may be running up your power bill to keep the air conditioner going. Here are some energy-saving tips from Duke Energy to help you prepare for the summer months:

  • A new high efficiency air conditioner can use about half the energy of older models. If your AC is less than 10 years old, maintain it well; if it is more than 10 years old, you may want to look into replacing it with a new high-efficiency model.
  • During summer months, set the thermostat to the highest comfortable setting. Adjusting it even a few degrees up can lead to significant savings on electric bills. Energy Star recommends a minimum set point of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Clean or replace HVAC filters at least monthly, and keep coils on an exterior AC unit free of dirt, grass clippings and leaves. HVAC systems should be checked regularly by a qualified contractor.
  • Humidity can make an AC unit have to work harder. “While it’s tempting to give your AC unit a rest on cooler nights and open the windows instead, it might be better to keep the windows closed to keep drier, cooler air indoors,” according to Duke Energy. “Also, if hot weather is forecast for the next day, keep the AC on — and doors and windows closed through the night — to keep humidity out.”
  • Around the house, use ceiling fans or oscillating fans to circulate air in rooms. Turn fans off when you leave a room. Close drapes, curtains and blinds on hot, sunny days.
  • Turn off any lights that aren’t necessary, especially the older types that emit more heat. Seal air leaks with caulking and weather stripping.
  • Minimize door traffic to keep cool air inside.
  • In your attic, repair leaky duct work and add insulation to prevent cool air inside your home from escaping.

Q: We’ve been doing some spring cleaning and sprucing up. Now that we’re done, how do we dispose of old half-empty paint cans?

H.C.

Answer: Since you gave us a Davidson County address, your best bet is the Davidson County Landfill in Lexington, which takes household hazardous waste including old paint on the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 220 Davidson County Landfill Road in Lexington.

There is no cost, but they only accept waste from county residents, and can’t accept waste from any businesses, landlords, people cleaning out a foreclosed house or similar situations.

Residents of Forsyth County can dispose of leftover paint at the Enviro-Station, 1401 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Residents also can dispose of household hazardous wastes such as herbicides, oxidizers, used oil, solvents and other corrosive, reactive, flammable or poisonous materials there.

If you have a material not on the list above that you want to bring to the Enviro-Station, call first at 336-784-4300 and explain what it is.

That may save you an unnecessary trip if it can be disposed in the regular trash.

In other counties, you should check with your nearest landfill to see if they have a program to accept such waste.

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Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

Online: journalnow.com/asksam

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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