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Energy ratings help you keep the A.C. bill down

Monday - 5/23/2011, 9:56am  ET

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WASHINGTON - The weather's heating up and soon enough our air conditioners will be cranking up. So how do you keep your energy bills from shooting up?

WTOP Saves You Money with some pretty simple steps.

"The easiest way is to plug up holes in your house," says U.S. News and World Report Alpha Consumer Kimberly Palmer.

Palmer says sealing drafty doors and windows can cut up to 20 percent off your energy bill. That's not all you should think about covering up.

"Closing your shades ... prevents a greenhouse effect from happening in your house when you're out and about," she says.

If you're thinking about getting a new air conditioner, that's a big upfront cost. But compared to older models, new units may end up paying for themselves.

"You want to make sure you look for the Energy Department's energy star rating, which basically helps you find the systems that are most energy efficient," Palmer says.

WTOP's Nathan Hager contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)