In photographing the best looks of a burgeoning city I captured a photo of the Austin skyline.
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Summer is on the way, and so are higher electricity bills.

Texas homes use an average of 1100 kWh of power each month, and even more in the summer. If you’re watching your home budget, here are some easy ways to reduce your electricity costs.

Raise the Temperature

Heating and cooling your home accounts for 50% or more of your electricity bill. Raising the temperature on your thermostat by even two or three degrees can save you almost 10 percent on that portion of your bill.

Consider saving money by setting the temperature on your thermostat to 75* rather than 72*. If you're comfortable in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, the home is cool enough.

Get an A/C Tune-up Will Reduce Your Electricity Costs

With your A/C accounting for so much of your electricity bill, it makes sense to invest in an air conditioning tune-up at the start of the cooling season.

During the tune-up, the A/C professional will inspect your overall HVAC system and electrical connections, check that the temperature is the same at all registers and check your refrigerant levels. They will also clean the condenser coil and remove debris.

Change Your Air Filters

When was the last time you changed your air filter? Change them regularly to avoid placing a strain on your A/C system. A clogged filter will make your A/C system work harder and run longer.

It’s the number one advice from A/C professionals to keep your A/C running cold.

Use Ceiling Fans to Stay Cool

We tend to rely on air conditioning to keep us cool. But what about the old-fashioned approach of a fan? Fans cool by evaporation. The fan is evaporating tiny amounts of sweat on your skin, leaving you feeling cooler.

Install ceiling fans in rooms you spend a significant amount of time in, such as bedrooms and living rooms, and use portable fans for other parts of the house.

Keep in mind that fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off when you leave. Also, be sure that your ceiling fans are circulating the right way (as you look up at them, counterclockwise in summer and clockwise in winter.)

Install a Smart Thermostat

reduce your electricity costs

You’ve heard of smart home technology? A connected smart thermostat can manage your home A/C for you, no programming required.

An example of a smart thermostat is the Ecobee Thermostat. This thermostat knows how long your house will take to reach a setpoint (the goal temperature you've set on your thermostat) based on the current temperature and humidity in your home, and the outside temperature.

Based on information you provide on your schedule, the thermostat will automatically adjust to hit your desired temperature in the most efficient way.

Look at Your Electricity Bill

Consumers in Dallas, Fort Worth and the surrounding area have a choice in their electricity supplier. Take a look at your electricity bill. If it says “flex plan” or “variable rate” your electricity contract may have expired, leaving you on a rate that changes every month.

A variable rate combined with higher summer electricity usage is a recipe for a high bill. The best bet is to shop for a new electricity plan before your old one expires.

Unplug it!

Many of our modern electronics draw power even when they aren’t plugged in.

Use a power strip for your home entertainment system, or for your computer, monitor and printer. Turn off the power strip when you are done using these devices. Also, unplug cell phone chargers and gaming consoles when they aren’t in use.

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Applying any of these tips will help you cut your electricity costs. Keep your cool this summer!