Beating the heat, AND the hydro company.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently confirmed that no year on record since 1880 has been hotter than 2010. In fact of the 10 hottest years since 1880 a total of nine of them have happened since 2001. 2008 being the only exception.

The world is quite simply getting hotter. In conjunction with it the amount on energy required to combat the sweltering heat has increased dramatically, and the financial strain on families is mounting. However, there are a lot of things that you can do to reduce the level of energy consumption and the temperature in your home simultaneously. None of them are a big surprise, but combined they will make a difference.

In a recently published book titled “Loosing Our Cool” written by Stan Cox some startling statistics we brought up that really put things into perspective for me, and I believe they will for you.

Did you know:

  • In the United States the amount of electricity used to power air conditioning units has doubled in the last 12 years alone, and accounts for almost 20% of the average home’s annual energy bill.
  • While air-conditioning has been shown to help people with medical conditions survive, over air-conditioning has been blamed for increasing the rates or asthma, allergies, and obesity.
  • Six out of every Seven gallons of diesel fuel brought into Iraq and Afghanistan by the US military is used to run air-conditioning units.

Well, summer is almost here, so lets get ready.

In a recent interview with Lisa P Jackson, Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency stressed that “A few simple changes will help create real reductions in high summer electric bills and provide a hefty cut in greenhouse gas emissions in the bargain”

The EPA’s Summer Cooling Tips

If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, buy one. The savings tally to nearly $300.00 a year. This way, when you are out of the house, on vacation or sleeping, you can set your ‘stat to “Save.”

  1. Search your house for leaking ducts. The majority of homes lose about 20% of their cooling energy through leaky ducts.
  2. Seal off any ducts to unconditioned areas, and insulate rooms like the garage, attic or cellar. (Families with larger homes and empty nesters consider not cooling the wing of the house no one ever goes into.)
  3. It may be time for an AC upgrade. Get a qualified professional to inspect your system. Look for models that have the EPA’s Energy Star and replace filters at least every three months.
  4. Replace those old-fashioned, “roundy” light bulbs. The Energy Star fluorescent light bulbs use two-thirds less energy and generates less heat than those dinosaur incandescent bulbs.
  5. Turn off all appliances and lights when not in use. Coffee makers and toaster ovens don’t need to be plugged in all day.
  6. Make sure your fan is spinning clockwise. This will create a wind-chill effect. Turn your ceiling fan off when you leave the room. Fans cool people not rooms.

Bonus: This summer, wear skimpier clothing, keep yourself hydrated and take cooler showers.

Making the changes may have less impact on comfort than you think.

The biggest thing to remember when trying to reduce your energy consumption this summer while still getting an adequate amount of relief from the heat outside is moderation. As as species we are pretty resilient, and our bodies adjust to the rise and decline in temperature through the seasons naturally. You don’t necessarily need to make your home drastically cooler than the outdoor temperature, unless you acclimatize yourself to need it.

A study performed by De Dear and Brager in 2001 for UC Berkley found that in order for adequate relief from the heat the temperature inside your home only needs to be 12.5 degrees fahrenheit cooler than the outside air.

You can drastically reduce the amount of energy you are using and still stay comfortable all summer long. All you need to do is make a plan, and follow through on it.

A programmable thermostat will cost about $50 at Home Depot, but the investment will not only make you more comfortable in your home, but will likely save you twice the cost in the very first summer you use it.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric May 12, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Another tip. If you are in the market for a new outdoor grill consider purchasing one with a side burner. It helps keep a lot of heat outside the house if you do as much cooking as you can outdoors.

Theo Dimson May 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm

My home is electrically & Propane heated.
What type of AC product would you recommend?
Thank you

Theo Dimson

Rich Massingham May 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm

If the home has forced air heating (ducted) then the normal central air conditioning would work. If it is electric baseboard heating then the best solution is ductless mini split a/c.

Jack Gray May 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

I live in a ground floor condominium apartment which is heated by baseboard heaters and cooled by a built in air conditioning unit. The unit is built into the wall, not in a window.
Do you have any energy savings advice for my particular circumstances other than light bulbs fans etc.
Thank You.
Jack Gray

Rich Massingham June 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Jack, I would focus on things such as smart strips/power bars to combat energy vampires such as home theatre units, tv’s, gaming consoles etc. Also when it comes to heating and cooling, simple things like closing or opening blinds/curtains or using window treatments to reduce heating and cooling costs will also help. Some other tips that could help are using microwaves or crock pots vs. your stovetop or oven, hang drying laundry, the list goes on and on. The bottom line is that little changes have a far greater impact than we sometimes realize. Good luck!

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