Consumer Reports offers simple steps to lower your energy bill

13% of a home’s energy costs are for cooling, CR says

It's summer time so it's time to turn on the A/C. We have tips to stay cool this summer and save some money while doing it.

Just about everything costs more right now — that goes for our groceries, supplies and anything and everything in our homes, including energy bills. The good news: There are simple things to do to start saving right away.

Consumer Reports says 13% of a home’s energy costs are for cooling. So the first thing you want to do is adjust the thermostat settings. Or upgrade a little to save a lot.

“A programmable or smart thermostat can lower cooling and heating bills by as much as 10% a year. Most smart thermostats use Wi-Fi and allow you to control your central air and heat with your smartphone,” explained Consumer Reports editor Dan Wroclawski.

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Wroclawski says some even learn your routine — when you’re home and when you’re away — along with your temperature preferences to customize your cooling and heating schedule.

Consumer Reports recommends the Honeywell Home T9 Thermostat for about $200. It includes a sensor to measure temperature and humidity.

Some simple changes around your home can also help lower your bill like keeping your blinds and shades closed during the day to keep the sun from heating up the house.

Ceiling fans have been popular for generations and for good reason. They can actually help to save money when you only turn them on when you are in the room.

“Ceiling fans not only cost very little to run, but when used with your air conditioning, you can actually raise your thermostat by about 4 degrees and feel just as cool,” said Wroclawski.

If you’re buying one, fans with the Energy Star label are 60% more efficient than conventional fan-light units.

Also, take time to plug cracks around windows and doors and repair any leaky A/C ductwork to make sure your cool air isn’t leaking out.

When it comes to cooking, try not to use your oven. Along with using energy, it also heats up the kitchen. If you really need to bake, try a toaster oven or air fryer. Both are affordable, money-saving options. Even better — get outside and grill it instead.

Here’s another way to help you save on your power bill: figure out what gadgets are sucking power — even when you aren’t using them. It’s known as “vampire power.”

Consumer Reports says, for about $20, you can buy a Kill A Watt — a device to measure how much power an appliance or gadget is using. Focus on things like your laptop and game consoles. For example, an Xbox One in standby mode uses more than 100 watts. So unplugging devices when they aren’t charging or in use could save you several hundred dollars a year.