Blanco County News
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Keeping Cool and Cutting Costs
RE/MAX Genesis
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 • Posted April 22, 2008 10:00 PM

Texas summers. Just saying those words kinda makes you want to hit the pool or the lake. Anything to cool off, right? Whether it’s statistically true or not, each year the summer seems to get hotter and longer than the one before it. And with rising temperatures comes a spike in energy consumption and soaring utility costs.

Other factors, such as the popularity of McMansions, have many experts wondering if the current power grids can provide enough electricity to meet the growing demand and keep consumers cool during summer months. In fact, many parts of the U.S. have already experienced lengthy power outages.

Texas residents have been lucky thus far, avoiding those rolling blackouts that are all-too-common on the east and west coasts, where the McMansion is most popular. But with more and more people moving into the state and the heat index pushing record-highs, conserving energy should be a concern. Not only will it save you money, it will help your fellow Texans as well.

With energy supplies already stretched thin, looking for ways to cool off during the summer heat can be challenging. There are measures you can take to lower your monthly utility bill that cost very little or nothing at all. Whether you own a home or are looking to buy, consider these energy-saving tips for keeping cool and cutting costs this summer.

Unplug it

Did you know that your home’s electronics suck energy out of the local power grid even when they’re turned off? This type of power is called “vampire” power, and it can really take a bite out of your wallet. No matter how good you are at remembering to turn things off after using them, they never go all the way off. Although this standby power is minimal compared to the costs for cooling your home, it does add up. From cell phone chargers to electric toothbrushes to your kid’s Xbox, unplugging these devices can save you up to 10% off your electric bill. This doesn’t mean you need to run around unplugging everything each morning before work. It does mean that if you use it infrequently, unplug it.

Close it or cover it

Before the sun has time to warm up your house, close the blinds and pull the curtains. Doing so during the early part of the day will make the inside of your home cooler than the temperatures outside, reducing your energy consumption and saving you money.

You might also consider applying window film. It’s relatively easy to do, takes little time and can have an immediate impact on your utility costs. Not only will you notice a difference in the sweltering months of summer, but window film retains 55 percent of a home’s heat during the winter months.

Plant it

Planting trees or tall shrubs is aesthetically pleasing, may boost the market value of your home and can help save energy. If properly placed around the home, the shade from trees reduces your need for A/C and can lower your utility bill significantly.

Turn it up

Turn your thermostat up to 78 degrees. You may also want to set it a little higher in the evenings or when you’re not home. If that seems a bit uncomfortable or, if you’re like me and want to see bigger savings, consider buying table fans or installing a ceiling fan. Table fans use the least energy and can sit almost anywhere, while ceiling fans may spruce up a room. The major benefit of both, however, is their potential to cool during hot summer months.

Audit it

If you own a home, consider an energy audit. A home energy audit assesses how much energy your home currently uses and identifies ways to make your home more energy efficient. While a professional auditor will likely be more thorough, you can also conduct a home energy audit yourself. Look online or visit your local home improvement store for details.

If you’re in the market to buy a new home, you may want to think about purchasing a property that is Energy Star certified. Energy Star homes meet energy-efficient guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Qualified homes use substantially less energy and can save homeowners about a third on their energy bill. Texas produces 25% of the Energy Star-qualified homes each year.

Cutting energy costs does not mean compromising your lifestyle. It does require a little effort, but following these simple guidelines will save you money and help prevent blackouts and power outages in your community. For more energy-saving tips, I invite you to visit

For services, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000 or

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