10 cool ways to save energy

As the dog days of summer approach, finding ways to conserve energy couldn't be more paramount. This week's Consumer's Edge focuses on ways to cut your utility costs. So here's the edge, as recommended by Progress Energy:

By Ivan Penn, The Consumer's Edge
Published June 16, 2007

1. Temperature climate control: Set your thermostat between 78 and 80 degrees. If you're leaving for the day, turn it up a couple of degrees. You'll save 7 to 10 percent on your cooling costs for each degree above 78.

2. Lighting: Switch from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs. A 15-watt fluorescent, or CFL, is roughly equal to a 60-watt incandescent. One CFL will save you about $8 a year, and CFLs generate 70 percent less heat.

3. Filter: Dirty filters can increase operating costs by 20 percent. Change them monthly.

4. Fans: Use ceiling and portable fans to keep air moving. Turn them off when leaving for extended periods.

5. Outside light: Close blinds, drapes and shades during the hottest part of the day.

6. Baths: Take lukewarm showers and baths, and run the exhaust fan to reduce humidity.

7. Cooking: Cook using your microwave or counter-top appliances instead of the oven or stove.

8. Get a home energy check: Progress Energy offers free checks to its customers. A representative will survey the home's insulation, duct work, water heating, cooling and heating systems and overall efficiency.

9. Consider budget billing: Customers who'd like a bill that is a consistent amount can use this free program, which helps customers forecast monthly energy costs and better plan their finances. Customers pay an average amount that is about the same each month.

10. Doors and windows: Caulk and weather strip any that are leaky.