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Cool Off Now, Pay Later

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RALEIGH — The suffocating heat we're experiencing is not only unpleasant and dangerous, it can also be downright expensive. Cooling off means you'll really pay the price when next month's power bill comes in. But, there are ways to cool a home without burning a hole in the wallet.

Air conditioner technician Ron Parker of Temperature Control is a popular guy this time of year. His sweat eventually takes the heat off his customers, although he rarely feels the cooling benefits.

Once comfort is restored, many homeowners try to save energy by turning air conditioners off or down when they leave the house. That, say the experts, can be a costly mistake.

"That really doesn't work because when you come home and you turn the temperature back down, the unit has to run longer to get the temperature back to where you want it," says Sally Ramey of CP&L.

Carolina Power and Lightalso recommends using fans to help circulate the air and keeping blinds or drapes closed to block out the heat of the sun. Saving energy is also a good excuse to eat out as consumers try to limit the use of their heat-producing appliances. Of course, none of that will help very much if the air conditioner doesn't work.

"Its just like you're the best person to come by this year," says Parker. "Sometimes you get it fixed and it's time for you to leave. You can't even enjoy it, but the customers do and really do appreciate it."

During summer months, air conditioning represents two-thirds of the average power bill. To save some money, experts advise setting the thermostat at 78 degrees, especially when no one is home.

Each degree lower than that could increase the power bill by as much as 3 percent. Reporter: Cullen Browder


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