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How to cool your house without heating up the power bill

A scorcher of a weekend is upon us, but before you go blasting your A/C, here are some tips to help you beat the heat without breaking the bank.

HOUSTON — Your air conditioner unit is 50% of the electricity bill. That’s why Reliant Energy has some suggestions when it comes to running it.

Reliant’s Wayne Morrison said to practice the 4x4 rule.

“If you’re going to be gone more than four hours, raise your temperature by four degrees,” he said. “That will help save on usage and cost.”

Morrison said each user is different when it comes to ideal temperature but reminds us that every degree lower than 78 can increase cooling costs by 4 to 6%.

He also suggested putting your air conditioner’s fan in "auto" mode to prevent it from overworking.

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If you have a low return air vent, make sure nothing is blocking it. It needs about 2 to 3 feet of space to flow properly.

“We want to make sure that we don’t put couches or chairs or bookcases in front of that. That would block the airflow that makes your system even harder,” he said.

Another tip: Switch on ceiling fans in the counterclockwise position.

“That will make us feel up to four degrees cooler,” Morrison explained. “That wind chill because we’re blowing air down makes us feel more comfortable. So we can raise the temperature on the thermostat a degree or two.”

RELATED: City of Houston asks residents to conserve water due to drought conditions

Try to avoid using large appliances during the peak hours of noon and 7 p.m. If you’re cooking, Reliant suggested using the microwave or grilling outside.

Don’t forget to close the blinds and shutters in the up position and pull the curtains. It can make a huge difference.

“The ability to close those when that sun is beaming through can stop up to 50% of the solar heat gain which translates to about 30% energy usage for your air conditioning system,” he said.

Check for gaps around windows and caulk them or for bigger gaps, use spray foam. Close a dollar bill or piece of paper in your outside doors. If you can easily pull it out, you might need to add some weather stripping around the doors.

Tiffany Craig on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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