Tips to lower your energy costs during scorching summer

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PHOENIX - Rosa Sanchez is feeling the heat, from the 100-plus degree weather to her wallet.

“$250 dollars was my last bill that I got yesterday,” she said.

Regardless of doing everything she can to reduce her family's electric bill, Rosa says nothing seems to be working.

“At my house I have sunscreens, I keep my curtains closed,” she said. “We hardly ever turn on the lights, I run the fans all the time.”

While those steps may help, Mike Donley with Donley Service Center has this advice for keeping your home cool while keeping cost within reason.

Tip #1: Change your air filter.
“The #1 thing homeowners can do themselves is to change their filter,” Mike says.
You should switch out your filter once a month, and even more often if you have pets.
Rosa says her reminder is her mortgage.

Tip #2: Keep your thermostat consistent.
“We like to say set it and forget it,” Mike said.
You should keep your thermostat within a four degree range throughout the day.
Otherwise, it'll cost you more to bring your home back to a comfortable temperature.
“For every degree that you set it higher,” Mike says, “you can expect to save 2 to 3% on your electrical usage for that appliance.”

Tip #3: Avoid “too good to be true” deals.
That includes calls from companies claiming that for somewhere around $19.99, they'll do a maintenance check on your unit.
“They're going to just turn it on and make sure that the air is blowing cold. They're not going to clean anything or do anything to the unit. They're just going to make sure it's working,. Well, we can do that ourselves,” Mike said.

Tip #4: Get a second opinion.
After all, Mike says some companies, including his, offer second opinions for free.
“It's just something you can come out and check and make sure that whatever you're buying or whatever your having repaired is necessary,” he said.

Mike also tells 3 On Your Side that because of the humidity in the Valley, his company is seeing a lot more leaky air conditioners this year.

To help protect yourself from damage caused by a leaky A/C, he encourages homeowners to invest in a condensate safety switch.

“The switch goes on your condensate line, and then if your condensate ever overflows, the switch will turn off the unit so it doesn’t create anymore water,” he says. “Then you’re going to call [your repairperson] to come and find the problem.”

Mike says the cost to have one of the switches installed is about $200.