smart spending

5 ways to slice summer power bills

Actually program your thermostat
Actually program your thermostat © iStock

Actually program your thermostat

You might be planning to get one. You might already have one. But until you actually learn how to use it, that programmable thermostat isn't doing you any favors.

It's kind of like buying a Ferrari key chain to go with a broken-down old car. Sure, it looks cool, but it's not going to make things run any better.

So get out the booklet that came with the thermostat and read it. Or have the customer service department talk you through the basics. Some power companies have special help lines for just that purpose, too.

When you use it, a programmable thermostat can save up to 10 percent per year from your heating and cooling bills, says Ronnie Kweller, director of communications at Emerald Cities Collaborative and past spokeswoman for the Alliance to Save Energy.

And who couldn't use a little extra money?

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