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Here are a few tips to keep down your utility bills while you lower the temperature in your house this summer.

First, use those ceiling fans. A fan stirs up the air around you to create a cooling effect, just like the wind chill we hear about during the wintertime. This allows you to use the air conditioner less, or raise the thermostat a few degrees when you do. Also, consider replacing your old fan with an Energy Star model, which uses about 50% less electricity.

Another great way to keep temperatures and utility bills low is by blocking or reducing the amount of direct sunlight that enters your home, particularly on the south and west exposures. You can do this from the inside by adding a tinting film to the windows, or by closing the blinds and drapes during the daytime. On the outside you can shade the windows with trees, awnings, or solar screens.