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Get ready for summer with this money-saving checklist

Use this simple checklist to get your home ready for summer:

20160304_springtips_fb1) Dust off the grill: Grills keep heat out of the kitchen, meaning air conditioners don’t have to work harder to cool it off.

2) Schedule a check-up: An HVAC technician should check your heating and cooling equipment. Should you upgrade to a more energy-efficient model? Ask your electric and gas utilities if they offer equipment rebates.

3) Get a free assessment. Many utilities offer a free home energy assessment, in which a technician will install a programmable thermostat, low-flow showerheads, a smart power strip and Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs—all for free! The technician also will offer LEDs and select smart thermostats at a discount. (Did you know a smart thermostat can save you up to $180 a year if you program it to switch your central air conditioning on or off at designated times?)

4) Spring Clean: Cleaning your air conditioning unit’s filters is an easy way to improve its performance and save energy.

5) Don’t blast the AC: Refrain from blasting your air conditioner as the weather warms. Set the thermostat between 75-78 degrees for energy efficient cooling. Each degree you knock off will reduce your power bill by about 3 percent.

6) Install ceiling fans: To cut down on AC expenses, consider installing an inexpensive ceiling fan. Fans consume less electricity than a traditional cooling unit. (Run it counter-clockwise, from your position looking up at it, and to turn it off when you leave the room.)

7) Locate & seal air leaks: Keep hot air out and ensure cool air stays in by sealing leaks with caulk or weather-stripping. If needed, add foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates, and between walls. Don’t forget to also check the insulation of unconditioned spaces like attics. Remember, many Illinois utilities offer rebates for sealing and insulation. Just ask.