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Turn off heat-generating appliances to keep your home cool

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Team Power Smart member Scott Geddes submitted this photo to the 2011 Team Power Smart photo contest.

Find new ways to stay cool this summer

It may not seem like it now, but rest assured that summer is just around the corner. Pretty soon, you'll be trying to find a way to keep you and your home cool.

Rather than rush to turn on the air conditioner, there are simpler — and cheaper — ways to lower the temperature in your home. It all begins with minimizing the amount of heat you are generating in the first place.

Hang your laundry to dry

Running your dryer in the summer is one way you're using energy and generating heat that you don't need to. Instead, try hanging your laundry to dry. You can get that fresh-air smell by pinning it up outside. Just like in this photo, by Team Power Smart member Scott Geddes, which was an entry in the 2011 Team Power Smart Photo Contest.

Taking advantage of longer, brighter days will help you cut back energy costs, since an electric clothes dryer typically uses the most electricity of any appliance except your refrigerator.

Apartment and condo dwellers who may not have yards can use a drying rack that is designed for indoors and folds up for easy storage when it's not in use. And hanging wet laundry inside on a warm day can actually cool the air.

This month, Vancouver's Rona Home & Garden store has provided three outdoor clothes lines and two indoor drying racks that will be given away to members of Team Power Smart who enter the monthly contest. If you're not a member yet, it's not too late to join.

Don't be afraid of the dark

Keeping the sunlight from shining into your home is another way to keep the indoor temperature down. Shade your windows during the day using window coverings. If you're looking for a more permanent shade option you can plant trees that can do that job, too.

Inside the house, you can keep the lights turned off or use energy-efficient bulbs which generate less heat. Only five per cent of the electricity that goes to an incandescent bulb is used to generate light, the rest is lost to heat.

Move the air around

Keeping your house cool during the day actually starts at night. Open windows and doors to let the cool breeze flow in, which will flush the warm, stagnant air out. As the temperature during the day begins to heat up, you'll want to keep your windows and doors closed to keep the warm air out.

That's when you want to use ceiling fans to keep the air circulating during the day.

Take your cooking outside

If you've ever stood next to your oven when you're cooking a roast, you know how much ambient heat that appliance gives off.

When the temperature outside heats up, one option is to save your family from the heat emitted by the stove by cooking outdoors. Grilling dinner on the barbecue not only gives you a tasty meal but it means little clean up in the kitchen, too.

The fuel that power solar ovens is the sun. These cookers concentrate the heat energy from the sun and are a simple and safe way to cook food without heating up the kitchen. You aren't likely to use your solar cooker year-round, but they are a different and fun way to stretch your culinary skills.

If it's raining and your grill master isn't one to brave the drops, you can have a hearty meal with cold food choices. Or use the microwave. That appliance not only cooks food quickly and efficiently, but it doesn't create heat while doing so.