15 tips to help you save energy and money during peak demand

Taking smart steps to reduce energy use, particularly during periods of peak demand like during extreme heat, not only helps lower peak load, it will save consumers money when electricity is the most expensive.

These 15 low- or no-cost measures will help you save energy:

1. Close drapes, windows and doors on your home's sunny side to reduce solar heat buildup.

2. Turn off air conditioners, lights and other appliances when not at home and use a timer to turn on your air conditioner about a half-hour before arriving home. Use advanced power strips to centrally "turn off" all appliances and save energy.
3. If purchasing an air conditioner, look for an ENERGY STAR qualified model. ENERGY STAR air conditioners use up to 25% less energy than a standard model.

4. Fans can make rooms feel five to 10 degrees cooler and use 80% less energy than air conditioners.

5. Set your air conditioner at 78 degrees or higher to save on your cooling costs.

6. Place your air conditioner in a central window, rather than a corner window, to allow for better air movement.

7. Consider placing the unit on the north, east or the best-shaded side of your home. Your air conditioner will have to work harder and use more energy if it is exposed to direct sunlight.

8. Seal spaces around the air conditioner with caulking to prevent cool air from escaping.

9. Clean the cooling and condenser fans plus the coils to keep your air conditioner operating efficiently and check the filter every month and replace as needed.

10. Use appliances such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and ovens early in the morning or late at night. This will also help reduce humidity and heat in the home.

11. Use energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR qualified light bulbs instead of standard incandescent light bulbs, and you can use 75% less energy.

12. Microwave food when possible. Microwaves use approximately 50% less energy than conventional ovens.

13. Dry clothes on a clothes line. If using a clothes dryer, remember to clean the dryer's lint trap before every load.

14. Be mindful of the different ways you're consuming water throughout your home. Instead of using 30 to 40 gallons of water to take a bath, install a low-flow shower head, which uses less than 3 gallons a minute.

15. Lowering the temperature setting on your washing machine and rinsing in cold water will reduce energy use.