Saving Summer Energy is Cool

Saving energy on hot-weather days is cool. And the good news is that technology is making it easier (and cheaper) to conserve power in your home by means that range from using more efficient appliances to installing solar panels on your roof.

Mike Gordon, president of ConsumerPowerline, a New York company that helps businesses cut their energy bills, has tips that are quick and easy -- and some that are more involved -- for saving money this summer.

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When it comes to simple things, Gordon says, drawing your shades goes a along way.

Meanwhile, running a dehumidifier will boost your air conditioner's efficiency. The more humid the air inside, the harder your air conditioner will have to work. Lower humidity in your home means you'll be comfortable at higher temperatures, so you can turn the thermostat up a few degrees, saving even more money.

Gordon also recommends buying motion sensors that will turn your lights off once you've left the room. If you've ever been in a business meeting where the lights went out because everyone was sitting still, you're already familiar with the minor inconveniences of sensors. But the savings can be substantial.

Some homeowners can now earn money from their power company by "shedding" electrical capacity at peak times, like hot summer days. Many utilities already have such programs for condo owners and multifamily buildings.

Here's how it works: the power company will install controls that shut down your power use when you expect to be out and when the power grid needs more electricity, like at midday. In return, says Gordon, the utility pays you for the power you're not using. And the controls should come with an override so that if you unexpectedly return home you'll be able to use the dishwasher.

Another source of savings: the energy bill Congress passed last year. It includes tax credits for everything from energy-efficient windows to solar-power water heaters and other home improvements. See more on tax credits for energy efficiency.

"If it's energy-efficient and certified as such it will likely make you eligible for credits," Gordon says. But check with your tax adviser before you go on a shopping spree.

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