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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, much like the wind chill we hear about during the wintertime. This allows you to use the air conditioner less, or even 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 to block or reduc 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.