Keep costs down when temp rises in Vail |

Keep costs down when temp rises in Vail

Scott Wirth
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – As summer temperatures creep higher and higher in Colorado’s Vail Valley, chances are, so do your utility bills.

In fact, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, home air conditioning accounts for almost 5 percent of all the electricity produced in the U.S., at a cost to homeowners of more than $15 billion per year.

Here are some tips for consumers hoping to keep cool without breaking the bank this summer:

• Install CFL or LED light bulbs: 30 standard, incandescent light bulbs in your home put off as much heat as a small space heater. One easy way to keep the house cooler and actually save money is to replace standard light bulbs with cooler, energy efficient compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.

• Consider an evaporative air cooler: Evaporative coolers, also know as swamp coolers, are perfect for the dry Colorado climate. Evaporative coolers operate 75 percent more efficiently than an air conditioner and are very effective at cooling a small area. Portable coolers, like the new ICE-AIR Cooler, are an even more economical choice, with options that allow you to cool an entire room at a cost equivalent to running a single 60-watt light bulb. They can really bring relief from the heat for less than a $200 investment.

• Find a fan: For each degree you raise the thermostat, you will save between 3 and 5 percent on air conditioning costs. With a ceiling fan, you’ll probably be just as comfortable with the thermostat set to 78 degrees as opposed to 72 degrees, while saving as much as 30 percent in electricity costs.

• Make shade while the sun shines. Solar window screens provide a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to home cooling and energy savings. Installing solar screens can reduce the temperature in a room by as much as 15 degrees, saving you 25 percent to 30 percent in energy costs.

Another simple tip is to install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house, and keep those shades or curtains on south and west facing windows closed during the day.

• Keep your air conditioner in top condition: Dirty filters are a drag on your air conditioner, which makes paying the electric bill a real drag, too. Replace your filters once a month during the summer. Also, experts say that shading the area where your air conditioner is located can increase its efficiency by five to 10 percent.

Find more helpful home cooling tips, as well as a hands-on video at

Scott Wirth is the owner of Ace Hardware in Vail.

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