Though the calendar won’t announce the official arrival of summer for a few more weeks, the Arizona heat already is settling in. Blasting the A/C may sound like a great plan, but it’s not so great for your energy use — or your wallet. From the air conditioner to the washing machine, a few adjustments can make a huge difference on your home and the environment. The grass will always be greener on your side of the fence with a little inspiration from these energy-saving tips.

Pull the plug: Turning the thermostat up a couple of degrees when you leave the house is the first rule when it comes to saving energy, but how should you treat your other appliances? Gadgets like coffeemakers, computers and home entertainment equipment that are not in use while you’re away from home can still consume energy. Unplug the idle appliances to eliminate their energy drain.

Keep it clean: During the summer months in the Valley, it’s impossible to not turn on your air conditioner, but when you use it regularly, cleaning or replacing your air filters each month can also save energy. Keeping air ducts clean and unblocked will keep the system running smoothly and efficiently.

Be an Energy Star: According to Energy Star®, almost 90 percent of energy consumed by washing machines is used to heat water. Switching your washes from hot to warm, or warm to cold water is a smart way to drastically save on energy and money, with little compromise to the cleanliness of your clothes. Also, when the time comes to move up, be it in a new home or by purchasing new appliances, look for the Energy Star stamp of approval for optimum energy efficiency.

Spin, don’t spend: Try giving your ceiling fan a little more love this season to lessen your impact on the environment (and on your budget). An average residential A/C unit running for 12 hours a day can cost more than $150 a month to operate. A ceiling fan costs less than a penny an hour to operate — that’s around $3.50 a month. While a ceiling fan will not actually cool your space (an 80-degree room is still an 80-degree room with a fan on), it creates a breeze that makes you feel cooler and more comfortable.

Get smart: All homes are not created equal. Energy-smart features, such as low-E windows, solar-electric power options and high-performance insulated stucco will help you achieve the energy-saving benefits you desire.

• Andy Warren is president of Maracay Homes, the Arizona subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. He serves on the board of directors for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and Greater Phoenix Leadership; as well as the board of directors and as an executive committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute.

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