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Keep Cool Without Burning A Hole In Your Wallet

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CARY — It has been so warm lately that evenCarolina Power and Lightis feeling the heat. CP&L hit a usage record Tuesday, and the power company is expected to hit another peak this week. Here are a few ideas for protecting your wallet while keeping your cool.

A nice breeze is hard to come by, so many people are rushing out to purchase their own cooling power. Box fans are some of the most popular devices, and lately they have gotten a lot more sophisticated.

"You can actually set this little thermostat dial and it'll operate at a cooling level and turn itself on and off as needed," says home improvement store manager Rick Tappan.

Tappan says ceiling fans are the real bargain, though. For about $20, a lighted ceiling fan will circulate cool air and burn less electricity, as long as it is running in the right direction: clockwise in the summer, counter-clockwise in winter.

The ceiling fan works by drawing "the hot air from the ceiling down to the floor," Tappan says. Changing the air circulation can make a big difference.

Of course the biggest cooling power is found in air conditioners, but Tappan says too many people do not buy the right size for the rooms they are trying to cool.

Buying a small air conditioner could be cheap in the short run, but in the long run it could cost more. "If it works too hard ... you're going to be paying more for electricity than if the thing came on and off and kept your room at a comfortable level," Tappan says.

Dehumidifiers are also a great investment, he says, because they help your air conditioner do its job better. Replacing your air conditioner filters on a regular basis also helps, along with using programmable thermostats.